NON- ENGAGEMENT CHICKEN
The end of my marriage was earth shattering. It’s a feeling, and experience, that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. However, shit happens, life happens, and you have to pick yourself up and move on. Usually moving on means dating - the other big D after the first big D (divorce).
Dating is hard. I doubt that anyone would beg to differ but it’s kind of a necessary evil if you want to move on, right? I find dating hard because you’re putting on a show; you have to be your best looking, most interesting and seemingly sane self. I stand by “seemingly sane” because we’re all a little wacky, right?
So we’ve established that dating is hard, so imagine combining that with being in your 30s, one marriage behind you, the abundance of dating apps AND sprinkle on top of that a little language and cultural difference.
What a clusterfu*k. Just Imagine. Ç’est pas du tout facile.
Honestly, I am not sure if my age and previous marital status play a huge role, but I do believe that the apps and the cultural difference do. First let’s talk about these dating apps. They present a false notion of choice, right? You forget that the person in front of you is just a person and therefore, like you, not perfect. But it’s hard to remember that when THE PERFECT Jean, Matthieu, Luc, Guillaume or Jules is one swipe or one heart away. You always think that the next person just might be your perfect match; there will be no doubts, no disappointments, no differences.
It’ll be like the movies and the next thing you know you’re taking photos in lavender fields in Provence! Then you’ll twirl around and be magically transported to the country kitchen of that lovely house in Provence that has been in "Jean’s" family for 4 generations. You and "Jean" are preparing dinner for 8, cutely bumping into each other as you cook, you’re both drinking rosé, he’s pinching your butt and then starts chasing you around the kitchen. I mean isn’t that what’s potentially at stake with every right swipe? With every Happn match?
But perhaps "Jean" isn’t pinching your butt in his family’s country house because you can’t connect with the "Jean’s" of the world. Before moving here, naively, I didn’t think there would be huge cultural differences. I assumed, stupidly, that I’m from New York City and I’m moving to Paris – both big cities, cosmopolitan cultural centers of everything so it’ll be more or less the same. Right? Right? WRONG!
There are so many codes, so many unsaid rules, so many things a “Jean” will say, or do, that will make total sense to an unbelievably chic and beautiful Parisienne, but to this “regular, degular, shmegular girl from the Bronx,” is completely nonsensical and will send me into a group messaging frenzy trying to figure him out. The language and culture barrier only adds another layer of complexity to the whole trying-to-find-someone-that-puts-up-with-your-bullshit-and-you-with-theirs situation.
There is also the whole fear thing, which is real. It’s hard to put yourself back out there after the end of a long term relationship, but, this too, is a necessary evil. Sure, I’ll meet lots of bozos, duds, and crazy painters but I’m learning about myself, my needs, what I want and my deal breakers.
ALAS! All hope isn’t completely lost.
Recently, a dear friend told me that in the past year she has noticed a change in my spirit, my energy, my vibe, and that made me feel really good because I’ve been hardcore working on myself. I took a conscious break from dating and focused on ME, like for real.
I know that this might sound corny and like everything everyone has ever read on the big, beautiful, internet, but I started dating myself. I went to the movies alone, I went to dinners alone, lunches alone, concerts alone, walks around Paris alone and WHAT DO YOU KNOW? I LOVED IT! I was enjoying my own company. I was living my life the way I wanted to, I wasn’t pre-occupied with what anyone else thought or what anyone else wanted to do or having someone in my life to “do things” or “keep me company.”
Now, I believe that I’m in in a better place personally, which will reflect itself well as I continue to date, and that’s why I made this non-engagement chicken. For me, this meal symbolizes the commitment that I’m making to myself to continue to engage in this journey of building a happy, healthy, full life here in Paris, with or without a man.
This is NOT Glamour magazine's engagement chicken because I am not making it for a man. I am making it for myself and my beloved Paris. This meal symbolizes the renewed commitment I am making to myself and my love, Paris, to continually work on myself and building the life that I want in the city I love with or without a man.
2-3 chicken thighs (depends on how hungry you are)
2 teaspoons of salt
2 teaspoons of ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
3 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1/1/2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 clove of fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon of fresh ginger
1 small red onion
Combine salt, ground black pepper, pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, red onions and 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil
Once mixed together into a nice consistency (feel free to add a little bit of oil if needed)
Pour mixture over chicken thighs and MASSAGE. You want to get all that flavor into every nook and cranny.
Cover and put in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, but it's best overnight
Remove chicken from the refrigerator and let sit for about 30 mins, allowing it to get to room temperature
Pre-heat oven at 250 degrees F
Pour remaining oil into your cast iron Once the pan is hot, place chicken in the pan skin side down and leave it for 4-6 minutes
Once the red onions and garlic start to soften remove them from the pan and put them to the side
When the skin side is brown and crispy, flip and cook the other side for the same amount of time
Now remove the cast iron from the stovetop and put it in the your pre-heated oven for 30-35 minutes. If you're not using a cast iron skillet just transfer the chicken to an oven safe dish and pop that bad boy in.
3 boy choy stalks (I guess that's what you call them)
1 teaspoon of fresh ginger
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
The garlic and onions that were already sauteed wit the chicken
1/2 teaspoon of olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Wash and clean the boy choy, I usually do it under cold running water to ensure that I get EVERYTHING out
Cut off the thick stem at the bottom, cutting off the steam makes sure that it's evenly cooked
Add the oil, ginger and precooked onion & garlic mix to the pan and let all those flavors blend together
Gently place the boy choy in the pot and toss to cover every leaf with the ginger, onion and garlic goodness
Add the soy sauce and continue to toss and blend
Turn the stove way down to low and cover for about 2 minutes
Keep an eye on this because you don't want it to burn. Once they become wilted and soft, they're good to go.
You can find my go-to recipe for rice in the Tout Sole Meunière post here.
You can find the recipe for fried plantains in the Fry Up The Vibes post here.
The Non-Engagement Chicken Playlist .
Just some girl power tunes that get me going. This is a great, pre-going out and need to get in the mood playlist. In my humble opinion.