Saturday, February 26, 2011
Julia Childs, I ain't
I am not the greatest cook, but I try. I realllly try. Still, it seems I am rarely able to please my husband with what I produce from the kitchen.
I used to think I was a decent cook. I had a special salad I had concocted that was always a hit, and if I learned one thing from my sister's first husband, it was how to make a mean lasagna. This lasagna was a master piece. It literally took all day to make because I made my own sauce. Short of growing the tomatoes myself, that sauce was truly "from scratch". It became my signature dish and I thought I was fully prepared for the old "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" challenge I would have to face after I left home. (Yes, I was about 12 when I learned to make this lasagna).
Then I met my husband-to-be and, a few months later, came the moment when I unveiled my treasure: The Sacred Lasagna. His reaction? "There are peas in it?" Yes, there are. There are a lot of things in it. "And eggs?" Yes, hard boiled eggs. It's Sicilian. I mean, I learned the recipe from an actual Sicilian who was born there and everything. "Are these onions?" Oh for crying out loud. It's not Stouffers, I'm sorry.
Flipping through my mental recipe book I realized that all the dishes I was good at making were all ones he would not like. My mother grew up in a largely Italian neighborhood so that was what I knew how to cook. Now I had a man who didn't like onions, green peppers, Italian sausage, stuffing (AKA "dressing" if you're from the South. Not Italian, true). Wonderful.
Fast forward some 20 years and try as I might, I rarely (like maybe 5 times total) have elicited any compliments on my cooking. Then came last Monday. Monday is Crock Pot night and I was trying a new recipe. I got home from work and made some corn and boiled up some noodles to go w/the chicken that had been simmering in sauce all day. I prepared to put the finishing touches (bacon and cheese) on the chicken and, much to my dismay, I realized that the chicken was very dry. It was tough and kinda stringy. Wonderful. Well, this oughta be good.
I warned everyone ahead of time that they might want to keep a beverage handy to go with the desiccated bird and we all tucked in. It wasn't inedible but it certainly wasn't what I'd call tasty.
Then it happened.
My husband was bringing his empty plate to the dishwasher when he says (and I'm not kidding) "That was really good."
Doiiii what? Good? It was chicken jerky, for crying out loud! So... what you're telling me is that, all these years I've been wringing my hands worrying about making good food when in reality I just needed to serve something (anything!) drowned in barbecue sauce?
Conclusion: it's not my cooking. It's his taste buds. I wonder if I can still remember that lasagna recipe...