Names: Riesling Roasted Apricots

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

-What's in a name?-

It's rare that I ever get hit with a wave of panic in the middle of a good book and Caesar salad, but then again my mother had always been rather unpredictable. The phone began blaring at me in the middle of the cafe patio and not in a place or with reason to ignore the call, I picked up.

"Hey mom," I said without giving away the fact that I was still reading my kindle. "What's up?"

"Are you planning on changing your name?"

"What?" the tone was enough to make me stop reading but the question is what arrested me. "Name? What do you mean?" I said knowing full well what she meant.

"Are you changing your last name after the wedding?" she reiterated knowing that I knew what she meant.

-My thinly veiled ploys rarely work with her anyways.-

I had been giving a lot of thought to the subject recently. My name and my identity and whether I was ready or even willing to change it. It doesn't seem like much of a matter at first, it's just a name after all and the names of bridges, people, and places change all the time. Look at Ceylon and Stefani Joanna Angelina Germanotta. I mean, they changed their names and they seem do be doing much better for it.

Yet, just like that old pair of jeans you've had since college and you swear every season you're going to replace when it comes time to toss them out a name, you realize, is something you've been with far too long. You've worn it in. It fits you not just right, but perfectly. It's a skin. Part of who you are to the world. You can't possibly imagine parting with it.

-Even if those jeans don't fit anymore.-

I've been a McCord for all my life. I like being a McCord. I love being a McCord. I've never been much into genealogy but I know that my name has a history in a storefront in Missouri on the Oregon Trail, swaying like dead branches from the gallows in England, and roaming the roads throughout Scotland. Heck we even have a McCord family coat of arms and a tartan.

More importantly, it's a nomenclatural connection to my family. Yes there are Capunes and Moorheads in there, but McCord is the primary thread that links me to everyone.

My mother, born a Capune in a very French-Canadian family, changed her name when she was married at 20. "I was so happy I changed it to Rayner," she told me once. "I always hated Capune. No one could pronounce it and it always sounded so gross, like you had to pinch your nose when you said it."

She divorced and remarried my father, Michael Minor McCord, and took his name then. After 25-plus years of marriage and three sons they eventually divorced, too. Mom kept her name as McCord. She figured she had been a McCord far longer than she had ever been a Capune and liked the name better.

"Plus, after all that time... mortgages, retirement, bank accounts, social security, even just magazine subscriptions. All my friends and family all know me as McCord! It would be such a pain in the neck to change it," and she's completely right. A downright nightmare dealing with that much social circle re-wiring and bureaucracy so heavy and blunt you could club a horse to death with it.

-Or a bureaucrat.-  

"Plus, I don't want to change my name. My sons are McCords and I want to have that with you boys," she explained. I could hear the sentiment and see her concern through the phone.

"Mom, I don't plan to change my name. Legally in any way, at least. I'm too lazy to deal with the hassel, and professionally I've established myself as Garrett McCord. No hyphen will happen in that area of my life." It was the truth. Laziness was a primary reason. But also something else...


It's true. Many couples these days don't change their last names. Women keep their maiden names, and wear them proudly. Some couples simply hyphenate.

Fiance asked me to change my name. A request I refused but assured him that I still loved him none the less. We discussed the hyphenation, in which a rather rambunctious and at times almost heated debate over whose name would go first ensued. He said his as he sees himself as the more dominant of the two of us to which I say that is still in debate as I could crush him to death with my ego and exceedingly extroverted personality. I said mine should go first based simply on the fact that my name comes before his alphabetically and that would syntactically make more sense.

That or he'll just say, "I'm the man in this relationship," a phrase that only causes me to get out the Nerf gun and sniper a rubber dart on his forehead.

"Mom, legally, I plan to be McCord. Socially, however, I think I'll be Palmer-McCord. And yes, his name first. He seemed rather insistent, though I fear William Strunk and E. B. White may haunt me for it. It's just so stylistically naughty, but perhaps that's one of the reasons I like it?" I said the last part in honest musing.

"Don't worry, mom. I promise I'll always be a McCord."

My identity isn't just my name, I guess. But perhaps we put far too much stock in names. This little preparation for apricots is one such debacle. I suppose that apricots cooked in the oven in a bit of honey, Riesling, vanilla and thyme is sort of a braise. There's no browning, however. Then again, the person who taught it to me always called them roasted apricots since it sounds more approachable and the dish isn't covered. And even after all that I suppose we might even call them baked, but that's stretching things thinner than they need to be.

I suppose either could be right or wrong, and I don't really care to debate much about it because the result - what the apricots be they roasted or braised actually are - is what matters. The apricots are soft, honeyed, and rather haughty after a long drink of dessert wine. The flush in their face shows as much.

Served over a bit of lightly beaten cream or perhaps some whipped mascarpone and you have a rather indulgent and simple lunch to turn over your name with, regardless what you decide it is. I also enjoy these in salads with the syrup tossed with a bit of oil and vinegar, and the fruit is also lovely with grilled pork or chicken. Add one to a glass of rose wine for a delightful drink, too.

These keep well in the fridge about 2 weeks so feel free to double the recipe and keep the fruit and syrup on hand until needed.

Riesling Roasted Apricots
5-6 large apricots
2 1/2 cups Riesling
3 tablespoons honey
1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
pinch of lavender buds
1/3 cup sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut the apricots in half lengthwise following the groove and twist apart into two halves. Discard the stem and pit. Place them face down into a baking dish.

2. In sauce pan combine the vanilla bean pod and seeds, wine, honey, and lavender. Heat over medium until the honey has dissolved. Pour over the apricots. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

3. Remove apricots and place the wine and spice back into a sauce pan along with the sugar over medium-high heat. Reduce by a bit more than half to create a thickened and rather delightful syrup. Serve apricots and sauce by themselves, over yogurt, ice cream, cheese, salad, or even with some grilled chicken.


  1. Or you could BOTH change your names to something amazing- like Dashing. Just imagine it! "Hello, nice to meet you, we're the Dashings." *eyebrow cock*

    1. I do that already though at parties. ;)

    2. Yeah, if you already do it then that becomes taking the joke a bit too far. Too bad... I like it. :)

  2. Very well thought out, and very well said. Recipe looks nice, too. :)

  3. ugh, I have the same dilemma, and I'm getting married in 2.5 weeks so I have to make up my mind soon. I love being a Bardolph. There are so few of us, and there's a Bardolph in Shakespeare, and it means Ax-Wolf in Old English. (Ax-Wolf! seriously!) But then my husband and I plan to adopt someday, and I want everyone to know that we're all a family, even though we won't all look alike. Plus he's amazing, and I'm super proud to be marrying him, and I don't want anyone to doubt or question that we're married (especially in the obnoxiously conservative community where I live where if you don't share a last name, the first assumption is that you're LIVING IN SIN THE HORROR).

    sigh. excuse the rant. this has been bugging me for a long time.

    1. Laura (and Garrett),

      Your comment (and post) reminded me of an ongoing conversation at my favorite wedding blog. You can see various posts on the subject of name-changing here. What you really reminded me of is this post about how your decision doesn't have to be forever. Just because the 2.5 weeks comes and goes doesn't mean you have to make up your mind. (And Ax-Wolf is seriously magnificent.)

      Good luck! Happy weddings!

    2. Ax Wolf is pretty fucking boss. Kids can always have a hypenate last name. =)

    3. Why can't he take your name? I know that is a highly unlikely suggestion, but still. If he wants you to give up yours, then he should be willing to give up his. Fair is fair and all that.

      Although I say that as someone who changed her name on marriage and regrets it. I don't regret marrying--it will be 14 years this summer and we are still very happy together--but I do wish I had kept my name. But at the time (21 and stupid), it never even occurred to me that keeping mine was an option, and if I were to change it back now, after 14 years and two kids, he probably would take it as a rejection of him, plus all my professional life I've been KS instead of KJ, so there is that too.

      Also, your name is seriously kick-ass and nobody should be asked to change that. At least when I did change mine, I went from something relatively plain to a more interesting name (husband is Sri Lankan and I'm a white American girl of northern European/British/Irish extraction).

  4. These look delicous and I can't wait to try them over Greek yogurt!

  5. What ever you call them, you got my attention. Pinned!

  6. It's utterly lovely that he wants you to change your name to his- whether you acquiesce and how much matters less perhaps than the honor of the request. I'm so glad you've found a compromise that respects both your past as an individual and your future as a couple. Well wishes from Phoenix Az! I've followed your blog for a couple years and am always so happy to read these beautiful posts full of hope and humor and romance. We're rooting for both of you, Mr. Palmer-McCord!

    1. Glad you enjoy the humor and romance (or as I like to call it, ho-mance).
      The Palmer-McCords

    2. Off topic, I know, but hey! We live in Phoenix too! Just wanted to give a shout out- hope you're enjoying a pool in this hideous heat :)

  7. I am Greek but my last name was chopped off when my grandpa came over on the boat. I've often thought of changing it back to the longer, more beautiful sounding Greek name it once was. But then I think about social security cards, and bills, and blah blah blah. Then I think my shortened name will just have to do.

    That recipe looks delicious. I'm stopping at Taylor's on the way home to get ricotta for some stuffed squash blossoms. I think I may have to just pick up a few things to make this as well.

    1. Now I'm curious what the last name is. =)

    2. It is currently Dinos. It was Dinos Nickalaruos.

  8. Hi, I stumbled on to your blog looking for recipes and have read some interesting post, like this one. I’m a gay man and have been married for over 29 years. Back when we got together changing names wasn’t even considered. I will be 50 years old this year and it has become increasingly important to me to change my last name to my husbands. I have been feeling the need to have the unknown public view us as “related” by virtue of our name. That immediate recognition in the last name conveys something. That you are related, more than friends and it does so without having to define who you are or how you live. I think that’s important! Parents and siblings often don’t have common last names due to marriages and divorces and that’s pretty much accepted by society. Since gays do not have marriage equality and it’s important to be recognized as a family unit and I hope more gay men and women choose to take a common last name. My name is Robert May and before the end of the year I will be Robert Rodriguez. Good Luck to you both and congratulations!

    1. Maybe, we'll take a previous commentor's advice and change our last name to Dashing. ;)
      COngrats on your 30 years! =D

  9. "Palmer-McCord" has a nice flow and sound to it.

    You can look at it from another angle: you will always have the last word. I would imagine an extrovert possessing an ego with potentially fatal crushing capabilities often does get in the last word. Right?

    Bonus: your last names mesh together beautifully. The soft sound of "Palmer" followed by the bite of the "k" sound of "McCord". Perfect.

    Best wishes on a long and happy life journey together regardless of what name you choose.

    BTW, lovely recipe.

  10. We changed our names for legal reasons- it was easier for all of the paperwork to have just one last name assigned to both of us and in the event of an adoption, our child(ren) will share our last name. Though I must say that when we chose to hyphenate, we didn't consider the fact that signing our name would become a tremendous pain in the rear. As for who's name came first, I argued that mine sounded better first and we all know it's more about aural aesthetics than linguistic technicalities.

  11. As always Garrett you find the meat in a subject and present it beautifully.
    When my wife and I got married we went through the same process and discussions. Getting married later in life (near 40) we both had become quite comfortable and established with who we were and what we were called so we opted to keep our own names with an agreement that if we had children they would be hyphenated alphabetically.
    To simplify having to write out both our rather long names, our friends and family have loving dubbed us simply "The Lesbians" and we often get cards and invitations addressed as such. Our nieces and nephews have created the name *Melaura* (combo my name and my wife’s name Laura) to refer to us. In the end, our decision wasn’t that important, because the people in our lives, who mattered most to us, knew who we were as individuals and as a couple. But I really wish I had considered the option of “the Dashings” as the previous commenter mentioned, that would have been cool. Good luck with your nuptials and your life together!

  12. That's a tough choice, between changing your last name or not or hyphenating. Better dive into this delicious riesling roasted apricots for the moment.

  13. I just stumbled upon this lovely recipe and this very thoughtful discussion. Have you considered adding his last name as your middle name? I did that and it works perfect! Then no need to have the hyphen involved which can sometimes scream out lack of identity.

  14. I married 7 years ago and didn't change my name. Despite having informed him of my decision before the marriage it still caused an argument between us afterward. Eventually he got over it after having explained that if it were my intended last name I would have been born as such.


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