A lot of people don’t know this but the word cacciatore means “hunter” in Italian. Curries the plural for curry means “a complex group of spices from India. When my husband Steven, and I met nine years ago in Oceanside, New York. The town that we both grew up in. I recognized him immediately and I can honestly tell you time stopped for me. He was the most amazing looking man I had laid eyes on…he had this look to him; even in high school when he was dating a close friend of mine.
The last time I saw him was in my freshman year, he was walking into the south side of the high school and dragging his shoulders closely to the lockers and hitting every lock with his left hand. I was walking the opposite way and leaving the building. We smiled at each other, nervously and that was it, we met a decade later.
We met on a Saturday night, had our first date that Wednesday; and eloped two months later on April 11th. We were two loaners who didn’t want to be alone anymore. I just came out of a bad relationship of empty promise, judgments based on my cultural background. I wasn’t good enough for my ex’s family and coming from a broken home; broken meaning my parents were divorced didn’t help matters. Also he was from Pakistan and I was from India “The enemy” so his parents, like most from that side of the world, decided it would be best if he ended things. I was 28 years old and for “desi” meaning Indian standards that was over the hill!
But, I didn’t feel over the hill and I didn’t feel I came from a broken home, or being Indian wasn’t good enough. When I met Steven, he was the nicest person I had met in a long time. He was so simple, compared to what I was use to; Indian men take a lot of pride in driving expensive cars and having a lot of money. Steven drove an old Buick when we met. I remember sitting inside and looking up seeing there was no roof, just rust. He was embarrassed but I couldn’t help but smile. He came with what he had, he never showed me something he wasn’t. I always told him he was a “diamond in the rough”. I also learned a lot and he helped me become more street smart, and see people and situations for what they really were; not what I wanted them to be. We found each other together. One of our first months dating; we decided to make a list of goals we wanted to complete, separate and together. It was comprised of Steven getting his GED, and moving out of his parent’s house, to me becoming an American citizen, paying of debt, and both of opening up a business together. We wanted so much to be together and leave the town we were in and never look back…we both faced a lot of embarrassment and heartache, separately; growing up and after marriage.
We never told anyone about eloping until one month later, needless to say his big Italian family and my small Indian family were not very happy about it. But we didn’t care, we finally found happiness in the most unlikely place. We also never told his family until much later about Steven, converting to Islam. Now known as Yusuf to our two boys, friends and family. We also confessed later on that we didn’t even start feeling love for each other until a year into our marriage. I wouldn’t call our marriage a “business deal” or a green card marriage. It was a marriage of understanding, and arrangement. Like they did back home in India, and we saw nothing wrong with it. We understood each other, we didn’t put unrealistic expectations and promises on each other; and we arranged for our lives to get better by helping each other.
We had a lot of things we had to work out and I needed to fix my life and he needed to get his on track. When we got married it was very hard, we left our parents “nest” at a later age than most. For the first year of our marriage I can remember paying all the bills and having $15-$20 for groceries left over for the entire week. It was hard but those times were still beautiful, we were making it. We didn’t depend on anyone and we never had our hand or worries out in the open.
We also cooked together, quite a bit. Being a lover of Italian food my whole life, and my husband who started enjoying Indian cuisine since meeting me. We decided to make a dish one night that we could both enjoy. We came up with “Curry Cacciatore” the whole recipe is authentic Italian, and in the end we lightly covered the chicken with a traditional Indian curry. We always joked that he was a hunter in search of love, and he found me. I was the curry, a complex combination of east and west and a lot of spice.
Years later when the lean years were over and we finally reached one of our last goals and opened up our Gourmet Ghee business together. Once again, we wanted to implement best of both worlds and we designed two new flavors; “Black Truffle Ghee Butter” & Roasted Italian Garlic Ghee Butter”. We took those two new flavors with us when I went on the Dr. Oz show. Black truffle was the flavor that the we presented to the judges to try in a competition style segment I was on. It was a success, everyone loved the fusion flavors.
When I recently received an email from an Indian man who was marrying his Irish girlfriend, he asked for some recipe suggestions using some of our flavors. It made me think of that small kitchen in Long Beach, were two people from completely different backgrounds created a dish based on new found love, trust in each other, and blind faith. We met our goals and are now running a business we love while showing the beauty of two cultures; one flavor at a time.
Visit https://gourmetghee.com/ for recipe ideas.