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The first stew recipe I ever made was about as ambitious as it gets—bouillabaisse, a French fish stew that involved pounds of fresh fish, including a whole live lobster that I killed with my bare hands. (Ok, well, my bare hands gripping a knife.) This was Valentine’s Day in 2018. At the time, I was working as a line cook at a French restaurant and felt equipped for the task. I went over the ins and outs of this dish with the executive chef for weeks leading up to February 14th. He even ordered live lobsters to teach me how to kill them.
But when Valentine’s Day came and I brought the lobster home like a newborn baby, swaddled in a thin plastic bag, the only knife available to me to use was a dull, mail-order Ginsu. Eventually, I succeeded in killing the lobster, but not without causing physical and emotional pain to both it and myself. When I showed the chef a video replaying the events, he told me it was the most violent thing he had ever witnessed and was slow to sing my praises. But I did it. And six hours later, dinner was served to my boyfriend, now fiancé. (I guess my plan to impress worked?)