Sunday, June 10, 2007

See Food?

“You don’t want to start out with a handicap,” my sister said, tossing out a witty reference from yesterday’s blog in an attempt to tip the scales in a debate that was waging over two contradictory sets of plans.

I wanted to stick to my Usual Plans and attend the Creation East festival. This is what I’ve done the last week of June for most of my life. But my sister says that since I’ll be away for July and she’ll be on vacation in August, the last week in June will be the only time she can come to my house this summer.

After reading my post, she doesn’t seem to think I can handle a mere 3 day buffer between returning from Creation and leaving for the X-country trip. Go figure. Besides, I’ve been having a terrible time finding friends to go with me this year, anyway. Everyone seems to have jobs and obligations, or they’ve gotten married or had babies. Incredible, the excuses people will come up with.

So I’m trying to talk my sister into going with me, with all four of our kids. I’d chipped away at several layers of excuses when she decided to take the opportunity to use the “complete honesty” format we chose for the conversation to announce that she doesn’t even like going to the festival.

For some reason, she doesn’t seem to think that sitting in a field with 99,000 people for three days under a blazing sun sounds like fun. She’s not much for the dust, or the cold kitchen-sprayer showers. She’s not even game for weathering the occasional freak storm or the porta-potties—which, I must say, they maintain with near-shocking precision.

Besides, events of the morning had already established that I was no stranger to starting from a deficit. It wasn’t even 9 a.m. and I’d already extracted a tick from my left forearm and discovered that my chief source for an imminently due article had--as six seasons of
24 have shown sources are so wont to do--“gone dark.” Not to mention that I’d run out of coffee.

I briefly considered joining the 7-11 will work for coffee program, but a peek inside my refrigerator revealed a breakfast deficiency to boot. I grabbed a croissant and iced coffee at the Dunkin Donut and headed to the beach in hopes of abandoning my troubles like flotsam and jetsam on the shore.

Sitting beside a wrecked ship that washed ashore last week, I realized the problem with changing my plans was the same as the one in my fridge: I am severely challenged by the assembly of delicious yet flexible menu options.

As much as I like to bill myself as an adventurous, off-the-cuff sort, I really don't stray far beyond a stable rotation of proven selections.

Food is a struggle in our home. I’d rather listen to nails on a blackboard than hear a child ask, “What’s for dinner.”

No one really likes anything. I’m no friend of the meats group, and my husband hates fruits and vegetables. I promote salads; he pushes pink strips of dripping flesh. No one eats seafood. There are about four dishes everyone can collectively appreciate.

Every couple of weeks, we have “the food talk” where family members are forced to suggest two meal ideas. Eventually, everyone writes down the same two ideas—me: pizza and pasta, my husband: grill and “don’t worry, I’ve got it covered” and the kids swap out which one requests the mac and cheese and chicken nuggets and which asks for tacos and chicken. Some smart alec will invariably choose “leftovers.”

Every now and then I’ll rally and pull out the cooking magazines—I have an entire cabinet devoted to back issues—and assemble a whole new plan.

New menu items are seldom readily accepted, as likely as not to be referred to as things like “casserole” or “hearty soup” with disdain for years to come. Even a recent batch of muffins fell victim to rejection when the kids discovered the origins of the recipe. I tried to conceal the torn-out magazine page from view, but my daughter got suspicious at the sight of wheat flour. “Is it from Prevention?” she demanded.

“Prevention Muffins” didn’t make the menu.

Now, there are the occasional bright spots. There was a successful dumpling dish introduced last winter, and a homemade soup my son and I patterned after a Panera offering. Following a daring move at a local buffet, the entire family is considering the purchase of a salmon for possible grilling. But more often than not, it’s easier to just follow our European roots and just buy food everyday than go through the “food talk”

Which brings me back to the end of the month. For me, the Creation festival is a huge bowl of rigatoni with crusty bread and salad—a staple that’s withstood the test of time. Anything else is received with as much enthusiasm as “the food talk.”

But I’ve decided to rise to the occasion on both fronts. I’m thinking when my sister comes, it’s time to grill the salmon. I also just got wind of a local jazz festival. I think I’ll score some tickets. Here’s to an expanded summer menu!


Catherine Wannabe said...

Well, I, uh, don't like salmon, but...can't wait to come!

Jennifer said...

Cindy, I want you to know that I really wanted to Creation.. and I even mentioned it to Steve and secretly thought very long about any possible chance that we could go. My attempts failed misserably. But maybe next year? I won't be newly married, and I won't be pregnant (hopefully).. and your blogs make me and Steve laugh very hard.. I love them.


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