‘Feed the bitch!’ a voice screamed over the phone to American chef Anthony Bourdain. Most of us would’ve slammed down the receiver and muttered something about ‘bloody kids’ under our breath, but Tony knew exactly who was calling and what ‘Feed the bitch’ meant.
The caller was Adam Last-Name-Unknown. A brilliant baker with a penchant for drugs who somehow remained employed despite a tendency to disappear on binges for days on end.
Why was he tolerated? The man was a dab hand with bread. He had a magical touch, especially with sourdough. But sourdough starters, like relationships, die if you neglect them. Hence the frantic scream of ‘Feed the bitch’.
A simple sourdough starter is fed with flour and a liquid. It can be water, milk, sauerkraut juice. Pretty much anything that feeds the bubbling fermentation.
Likewise, relationships need to be fed. But relationships aren’t cookie cutter. They feed on different things. About the only thing relationships have in common is the need to be fed and I’m not referring to sex.
Some couples enjoy attending football or cricket matches together. Their mutual love of sport ‘feeds the bitch’ and keeps it bubbling and frothing nicely.
Other more bookish couples wouldn’t be caught dead. They prefer museums, art galleries, concerts, libraries, archeological digs.
Some couples might enjoy building up a wine cellar, learning about wines, tasting wines and fancying themselves sommeliers. That’s how they ‘feed the bitch’.
When Rhys and I married, I worried we didn’t have anything in common to keep our romance frothing. There was certainly chemistry between us but that’s where the commonality ended. Our interests and passions were pretty divergent.
He loved to tinker with engines. Learn about engines. Repair engines. Take engines apart. Put engines back together. Swap engines. If there was grease under his fingernails and petrol fumes in the air, he was happy as Larry.
I, on the other hand, fancied myself a devoted Francophile, historian, novice sommelier and devoted gourmand. I scrimped and saved to afford truffles and pâté de foie gras. He was happy with chips and a bottle of beer.
Where was the common ground? How could we keep our relationship bubbly and yeasty?
Sometimes looking for shared passions is futile. You can’t find them. They can only find you.
He loved old, old cars and I loved the photographs, footage and fashions of yesteryear. Our interests crossed. Now we both enjoy learning about the early days of motoring, him from an engine point-of-view and me from a ‘I love their dustcoats and goggles’ point-of-view.
Early on, I pegged Rhys as an indiscriminate drinker of beer, but I was quite wrong. He’s a connoisseur of beers, ales and lagers. Any old beer just won’t do. It’s got to be the good stuff. He is, if you will, a sommelier of beer and again, our interests cross.
Perhaps we have more in common than I originally thought.
When I casually mentioned the Welsh Tommies were hosting a living history event at Caerphilly Castle last week, I never imagined Rhys would be interested. To my surprise, he insisted on going. Not just because I wanted to go but because he was genuinely excited.
We stayed in the picturesque 1888 Tanes Hotel and had high tea at the Selah Cafe with really lovely, proper buttery scones. We dined at CasaMisa. I had the prawns with Veuve Clicquot while Rhys indulged his inner carnivore with a rare rib-eye steak washed down with Douro Tinto. So he does enjoy wine!
Getting away definitely fed the bubbling starter of our relationship. We came home more in love than when we left. We’d discovered crossover interests and shared passions that will feed our romance for years to come.