BY BARRY LAZAR
Weddings are not about two people making a public commitment to share a life together. They are not about a ceremony that manifests its roots in a culture or religion. All of that is about marriage, and that is not the same thing.
Marriage is a wonderful thing, weddings … not so much.
As with any good chemistry, when two elements are attracted to each other, there can be a strong reaction. So weddings are actually not about tradition or anything else. They are about power. There is a profound structural formula at work. The older a couple is when partners wed, the more power they have over the affair. The younger the couple, the more that power is transferred to others: wedding consultants, well-meaning but misguided friends, and of course, parents.
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Weddings aren’t even necessarily tied to romance. I realize this is a cynical view.
Nevertheless, one wintry day, when Celina and I decided to stop living in sin (what a delightful expression!), I asked our rabbi about how much time he legally needed to post a notice of marriage in Quebec. He said about three weeks. I checked the calendar and saw we could get married mid-February. Thus we entered a legal union on Valentine’s Day. It does mean that I am unlikely to forget the date. It also means that my mate doesn’t necessarily appreciate my wonderful expediency and prefers to celebrate our first date, which coincides with her birthday, but that is another story.
Being able to organize one’s wedding lets control stay with the two partners most concerned. Short timelines mean that there is less of a chance a relative or friend will meddle. Forget Mendelssohn or Wagner (dum-dum-de-dum …). “I did it my way” should be everyone’s triumphal wedding march.
Large weddings do have a major advantage. With judicious planning, the couple gets to sample from several caterers, providing weeks of free meals before having to make a final choice. Focusing on the food also takes one’s mind off all of those nettlesome details that can ruin this important lifetime event: the design of the invitation, how many people can come from each side of the family, which online retailers will be used as gift repositories, or what statement the clergy should make that will offend as few people as possible. (“Say, does God really need to be involved?”).
Keeping it small, on the other hand, offends as few people as possible. We got ours down to 16 and had the wedding at home. Celina wore a gorgeous handmade wedding dress (she had wanted jeans but her mother said she wouldn’t come). I got to dance with my dad with shots of vodka balanced on our heads. (Where did that tradition come from?) A month later, my sister threw a party for our friends and nobody gave us a blender.
BBQ salmon bones
Here’s a Flavourguy summer favourite. Get salmon ribs from a fish store. This is the part of the fish that remains once the filets are taken off.
Cut them into plate-size portions and marinate them in a rich sauce. My favourite is a mixture of white wine, soy sauce, sesame oil and Chinese chili-garlic sauce in a ratio of 4-3-2-1. (For every 4 tablespoons of white wine, use 3 of soy sauce, 2 of sesame oil and 1 (or less) of the chilli sauce). Alternatively, try a mixture of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
Marinate for a couple of hours in the refrigerator. Cook quickly under a broiler or over a barbecue grill. The flesh firms up and there is a surprisingly decent amount to eat. This is a pick-up-and-chew meal, very casual dining. Eat with friends.