Saturday, May 06, 2006


The art of cooking was totally lost on her. She spent many years growing up in the shadow of a grandmother and mother, both excellent cooks but, unfortunately, who were quite short on patience, so they cooked, and she ate. They discouraged questions about the methods that caused previously unappetizing, uncooked foods to become masterpieces on the dinner table on Sunday afternoons. Because of this lack of their willingness to share their knowledge, cooking by adding a little of this and a little of that, until a beautiful, delicious meal materialized magically on the kitchen table, her own children grew up believing that the Kraft Italian Spaghetti in a box kit was a gourmet meal. She really never mentioned, and her son, who grew up to be a cook in an upscale restaurant once moving into his own home, called her on it many years later, that it really was not all that difficult to boil water and open two cans of tomato sauce. When she stepped out of that kitchen looking totally exhausted and put that spaghetti dinner on the table, her kids were ready to nominate her for the Mother of the Year award for her culinary expertise. They were naive and she liked it that way. She did remind her son that at some point she read that the best way to cook pasta was to boil it for a minute, turn off the flame, the most important part of the instructions, and then cover the pan with a dish towel for five minutes, allowing just enough ventilation for the steam to rise, causing more even cooking. He told her that really did not constitute being Italian from birth, a story this German-gened woman told them many times, so she also pointed out that there was the time she started pouring a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into the water which did make her feel she was cooking in true Italian fashion. She was pleased when Prego began to manufacture sauce in jars, secretly, which eliminated the necessity of even using the can opener.

Once the kids started school and began spending a little more time with friends, or, let's face it, even in the school cafeteria, she was forced to admit that she probably was not the best cook and did learn to put a chicken in the oven. Many chicken and mashed potato and green bean meals later, her daughter came home raving about the culinary attributes of a friend's mother, heaping adoring praises on her like, "Mom, you should have been there to TASTE it!! She's the best cook in the whole world!" Imagine her dismay upon learning that the heavenly meal consisted of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. And not even homemade tomato soup, just the stuff in the cans.

It was about this time that she discovered the cooking bag kits with the premixed spices, and pot roast. There was no way of messing that up, and her cooking skills increased. Pot roast, baked chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes and Kraft macaroni and cheese and the occasional Banquet chicken pot pie became her rotating menu; pure delicacies!

The kids were born, lived and left, and survived nicely, apparently. There was certainly no weight loss going on in that house, and imagine her total surprise when she realized that at the end of a pay period, she had cash remaining in her checking account once they had gone. And, imagine the sun breaking out from behind black storm clouds creating a beautiful golden hue over the city as she stood before her first gas grill!

It would take three years for her to break down and purchase an inexpensive gas grill at Wal-Mart. Her children were a little perturbed about the purchase as they had not been consulted, nor had anyone waited for them to send their approval reports to Mother Freedom Board of Directors, and let's face it, they felt a little slighted and hurt, especially upon learning that Boyfriend was being treated to such things as New York Strip steaks and gorgeous sauted vegetables several times a week. They certainly were remembering the lean Kraft spaghetti days as they sat uncomfortably in the dining room, where they had shown up uninvited, and watched her consume the biggest part of a T-bone steak...for breakfast.

She felt badly for them all the way to the store to purchase salmon filets for dinner.

And that was Day One.

1 comment:

Tracy said...

What time is dinner tonight?