My friend, who had brought over some fresh soda bread and dill butter to snack on with our tea, as well as the cookies, during the playdate that was really a thiny veiled baking-exchange eating-excuse, asked, "Why don't you just not tell him about the nuts and see if he notices?"
"Ah," I replied. "I can't do that. Because of the anchovy thing."
And then I had to explain the anchovy thing.
When we first met, B was not a fan of fish. He had once eaten a piece of salmon that was quite nice, but saw little reason to repeat the experiment. Since those far-off days, I have gently introduced some seafood into his diet, with simple mild tilapia, salmon in peach-habanero marinade, mussels with lots of garlic, things like that. But when we first moved in together, I still had much to learn about the ways of man, The Man, and this man.
I had just moved across the Atlantic and was looking for a job, watching lots of Food Network, and doing the shopping and the cooking, since he was an overworked grad student who had to adjust to being home for dinner and not getting to go to Wal Mart at 3am any more, and who had very patiently let me reorganise all his bookshelves when I arrived, because evidently my psyche needed to lay claim to the place. Rachael Ray, my new girl-crush, told me that if you sizzled some anchovies out of a jar with some garlic at the start of making a tomato sauce, it would taste fabulously savoury but not at all fishy. I couldn't wait to try it.
So I made the sauce, and didn't tell him what the mystery ingredient was. He liked dinner well enough. Then came the big reveal. He was appalled. Horrified. Betrayed. Not happy. As far as he was concerned, I had deceived him. What was next? If a girl starts by sneaking anchovies into a man's dinner, no doubt arsenic and belladonna will soon follow.
I was contrite, learned that I couldn't always anticipate his reactions, and haven't snuck in ingredients again. (Though, you know, he might be happy to find I'd been gradually building up his immunity to arsenic, or iocane powder, when a random Sicilian tries to poison him. Oh well. His loss.)
Last night we were reminiscing about the incident, now that we're so much older and wiser.
"I realise now," I said, "that it was as if I'd fed meat to a vegetarian and told them afterwards."
"Yes, it was. Well, vegetarians might have an ethical reason for not eating meat."
"Exactly. So that would be a reasonable reaction."
"Wait a minute. You mean, my reaction was like that? Not that what you did was like that?"
"Yes. No. Your reaction."
"Oh. Oh. I thought you were being a bit generous there for a minute."
"No, no. As if."
And of course, I did check with him this morning that he didn't mind my writing about it. I know now not to spring things, even delicious things, on him without full disclosure in advance. (And don't worry about the cookies. He liked them.)