Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Do not ask me what is for dinner or I will be forced to kill you…

I’m standing in the kitchen, one hand on my hip, the other holding the cupboard door open. My eyes narrow as I stare at the same can of beets that has been there for 4 years. Not you again. Why is there always a can of beets in my cupboard? Look just to the left and you’ll find a can of pinto beans that have been there since 1962. They came with the house. And, yes, there is that same can of red kidney beans that has been there almost as long.  I hate kidney beans and their mealy blandness. Who cares if they have 468% of your daily riboflavin requirement or whatever it is. They just sound and look gross.  My tired brain conducts a pathetic search of my on-board recipe bank for possible dinner recipes comprised of beets, pinto and kidney beans, and fails. DSC05362

If someone had told me, and I mean really laid it out for me, that by becoming a parent, I would be responsible for thinking up, creating and serving three meals a day to three people other than myself, who would regularly complain about said meals, I suspect I would have rethought the whole commitment. Like, really, WTF? Meal preparation is one of those things about which new parents just do not have enough information. Forget marriage preparation, it should be ‘How to Feed Everyone but Yourself’ classes.

Up until the moment of committing to parenthood, food preparation is actually fun. You and your partner wander around a market at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon, laze the rest of the day away, then create a gustatory masterpiece at 9pm that night which you then enjoy, just the two of you, with no interruptions. This scene is so far removed from the reality of feeding young children that it’s almost cruel. We mothers dole out servings of cereal that yesterday were just fine but today provoke the kind of reaction usually observed bedside at a particularly bad hangover. We sigh as our children fling bowls of peas across the room. We bite our tongues when our young daughters declare that today’s menu items ‘don’t really taste that good’. ‘Oh is that right’ we want to say. ‘Is that a fact’. We hold back the rest of those evil thoughts and instead warm up the leftover Mac & Cheese from yesterday. My kids are Mac & Cheese junkies. Apparently that is the one thing I can make that they just sit down and eat without sighing first. Slaving away over west coast chicken with wild chanterelles, baby bogweed sautéed lightly with essence of blackened dandelion leaves, accompanied by a coulis of lettuce, rainwater and wild duck spleen, on a bed of rat’s ass pate with squid-ink and cucumber sauce just doesn’t seem to be worth the effort anymore.

Back to the cupboard, and nothing has changed. My eyes scan the second shelf: rice, taco shells, cereal, pasta. It reminds me of a friend of mine who, in university, would ask every night ‘what’s for pasta?’ We would laugh hysterically. I still do laugh hysterically but it has a slight maniacal edge to it now. Is it wrong, I ask myself, to serve pasta for dinner 9 nights in a row? If you change up the sauce, and shape of the pasta, will they be fooled into thinking it is something different than last night’s dinner?  Millions of Italians can’t be wrong…My eyes rest on a bag of linguine and I start making stuff up: linguine al fresco con beetinis et pinto et kidnini? Maybe not. I will not make Mac & Cheese again tonight I declare to no one in particular. The can of beets winks at me.

I back away from the cupboard and sink into a kitchen chair. My 13yr old comes into the room looking hungry. He has obviously grown again in the past 5 minutes and is probably wondering what’s for dinner. Do not ask me what’s for dinner or I will be forced to kill you I think to myself. He rests a hand on my shoulder and reaches into the cupboard for a handful of crackers. Silence. Then ‘Mum can we have Mac & Cheese for dinner?’

After dinner, plates eaten clean, I hear Zoe say to Jacob ‘I love macaroni cheese’ and I think, yes, so do I.


That’s what I’m talking about...


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