Tuesday, May 8, 2012
It made me pause
A good friend of mine sent me a note today. It had been a while and she wanted updates on the usual--the beloved and child--question mark, the house we've been working on since Christmas--question mark question mark (another story, another post), more babies--question mark question mark question mark, and then food--no question mark at all. She noted this distinction. Anyone who knows me knows food is just one of those goings on that is always going on, even when too much else is also.
But it made me pause. Are food and I having problems? Do we need counseling? When is the last time I cooked dinner? (Last Thursday, I think.) What did I cook? (Roasted root veggies, Andouille sausages, and Neiman Ranch hot dogs, for Cedar.) Did I enjoy it? (Not really, I was stressed and Cedar wouldn't eat and I had left my kitchen a mess for a fairly simple meal. I remember that it tasted pretty good, in a fuzzy, I-can't-enjoy-food-when-I'm-stressed-out sort of way.) Oh! and Sunday night I made homemade pizza. But anything I cook feels clunky, lifeless. Like I'm trying too hard or not enough. Maybe the more insightful question would be: when is the last time I wanted to cook dinner? Blank. Too long. I have some kind of cooking amnesia. I am certain I can't cook much more than eggs and toast, because that is the only reason I turn on the burner.
Dinner has been either take-out or a mish-mash of oddities (the gazillion pot stickers I made that we're not too sure about, cabbage fried, cabbage shredded, cabbage boiled, and mayo, mayo, mayo, not all at the same time). I have personally been surviving on fruit and nuts, turkey and avocado "roll-ups" (my invention for Cedar: cut lunch meat in half, lie a slice of avocado to one side and roll like a burrito, then repeat), and, of course, eggs and toast. But I'm pretty sure that in the quiet moments I have still been, despite all appearances, able to enjoy my food. I am a little bored with the nuts, sure, and nervous--that my body will revolt against me and suddenly send me into anaphylactic shock, and I'll either die or spend the next ten years paying off the emergency bill that kept me alive, because we don't have insurance. Both scenarios are nerve-wracking. Mostly, though, I just worry that I'm not feeding my family. Cedar is still a little too short to take over as house chef, and Kevin, due to my excessive enjoyment of kitchen life, has been banished from the kitchen for too much of our life together and thus his culinary prowess is stunted. It is therefore my job to feed us, and feed us I have, but I feel I should be trying a little harder.
What began this road that became a rut was the simple beauty of simple beautiful food. It is comforting, after all, that the balanced combination of orange, pistachio, and date is something I can not only rely on, but also feel good about returning to every other day. The pistachios are salty, the oranges bright, and the dates deep and sweet. Cedar likes it, and so do I. I may not have followed a recipe for the last three weeks, I may have since eaten my weight in nuts, and I may soon be ready to start my own chicken farm for all the eggs we consume, but at least when I sit down and have a snack I often smile and sigh, because peanut butter and banana is good, toasted walnuts and apples are even better, and pistachios with dates and oranges is ludicrously amazing.
The truth of the matter is though, as long as the boys are fed, they are fine. It is me who cares whether we have pasta or pizza. They don't. And what's more, they tend to like the taste of my mish-mash meals. Kitchen sink salad? As long as there is mayonnaise. Pizza with a crust that didn't rise? Great, especially if there is bacon on it. Popsicles? For dinner? Maybe. I've been working my way through last season's frozen berries, it has been hot, and I've made a lot of random popsicles. Cedar had one for breakfast this morning. Kevin might go for it. I know Cedar would. What matters is that we eat, and hopefully, that we enjoy it. Are food and I having issues? I think I can say we are not. Does that mean I'm going to cook tonight? Probably not. But then again, you don't have to cook the food or follow a recipe to make it look like dinner.