Have you ever found yourself spinning the lazy susan full of spices around and around dreaming up new savory combinations to set your family’s taste buds ablaze with delight? Well, I sure haven’t. I loathe cooking and all things culinary related. Probably because it serves to remind me of just how lacking I actually am in this particular arena, but mostly because I am the complete opposite of my mother , who cooked three meals a day every day for her whole life. Chicken nuggets, french fries, rice & beans and the all too easy cous cous. These are the four super groups I adhere to when whipping up kids fare. I do toss in washed fruit (I will slice and peel) and the occasional grilled vegetable but that is as far as I’m able to stretch. I heard the groans of my children today as I managed to scald yet another tray of heavily processed chicken strips. Watching them snarl and gnash at the black shrunken rocks with their tiny teeth made me feel so very small and without the basic ability to feed my offspring ( or at least feed them anything GOOD). I sigh with envy when I see the talented cooks sashay across their newly installed travertine tile floors, effortlessly tossing together healthy ingredients on the shiny granite countertops. I so want to enjoy what looks like a great time, but when I step up to the plate , I just disappoint. All earlier efforts in this area have fallen flat so to suppose that all future endeavors would end in the same (literal) cloud of smoky failure is not such a stretch. When they were tiny and couldn’t complain due to lack of language skills and an immature pallet I was golden. The cold light of reality eventually shone bright on my shortcomings as even my children spat out my offerings deflating my sails in seconds flat. At any rate, this kind of undertaking is clearly beyond me. The skill set required includes, thinking and planning ahead, shopping for food, following basic directions and paying attention. No go.
Most nights the mess is salvageable, other evening it results in take out. The silent majority here lights up upon hearing the news that Dad is in the kitchen taking over duties and the house comes alive with the enticing aroma of properly mixed spices and marinades, grilling and frying. Suddenly, all seems right in the world as he chops, dices and juliennes his way to the perfect meal usually accompanied by the right wine. The man can cook.
Still, I do occasionally attempt lasagna and home-made meatballs which have a pre determined outcome due to a lingering fear of what may happen if a thousand angry Sicilian ancestors roll collectively in their graves. I don’t need some sort of crazy disgruntled spirit dogging me night and day hissing italian curse words in my ear while screaming that my gravy is not from scratch.