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Thursday, November 09, 2006

How I Discovered The Kitchen (Part One)

One would think that after celebrating my half-century birthday, I would have better things to do than sit and write a book of recipes. A few months ago if a friend had dared prophesize that I would soon be involved in such a project, he would have been met with cynical laughter and walked away with a black eye for insulting my male ego. Me? A recipe book? Dream on my friend, because you are out to lunch! Double entendre and cliché totally intended.

I was in the midst of juggling work schedules and preparations for my daughter’s wedding when Aviad, ten years old at the time, marched into my bedroom, jumped on the bed and proceeded to stare at me with his finely-tuned “lets give my father the guilt-trip look”. Over the years he has developed that look into an art form. Then, with all the temerity allowed to know-it-all children, he put his right hand on his stomach for emphasis and questioned (or demanded, depends on how you look at it):

“Abba what’s for supper? I am starving!”

“Abba” in Hebrew is the equivalent of “Daddy” or “Pop”. In this case it was being used as a challenge. Aviad’s eyes and cynical smirk said, “Yeah right. Like he is going to boil some spaghetti in a pot and throw it at me. Or better yet, he is going to pick up the phone, whip out the good old credit card, and order some delicious junk food.”

Cooking spaghetti can be a baffling, mysterious and frustrating experience even assuming you have:

1. Spaghetti somewhere in the house

2. At least one pot to cook the stuff in

3. An oven or stove top with (preferably) gas flames

4. Know how to turn on the flame

5. Know when the water is boiling

6. Know that once you throw the spaghetti in the water you have to take it out BEFORE all the water boils out of the pot

7. Have at least one fairly clean dish to serve it on

8. You will probably want a strainer to get rid of the water as well. Unless you just dump the whole thing in a soup bowl and say: “Here kid, eat this.”

9. Have some rudimentary eating utensils to give to the disrespectful child to stuff the meal down his/her mouth.

I bet you never realized how complicated making spaghetti is, and we did not even discuss the toppings, sauce, or salt. Sad as it sounds, when I first got divorced, I had absolutely no clue how to make spaghetti. (I did know how to boil water, so wipe that snicker off your face.)

For the uninitiated, who never had reason to know or never cared to understand just how the food you are eating ended up on the plate placed before your eyes, the idea of cooking anything, can truly be daunting. Burned pots, a sink full of dirty dishes with food strewn all over the kitchen-top are not exactly an idea of a fun project. Yet it does not have to end up that way. You do not have to order out all the time and pretend to your children or your date that the food somehow magically appeared on the table. With the right attitude, (positive – always think positive even when your child is staring you down and laughing in your face), and just a little bit of help you too can begin to cook and enjoy those family meals that help make for some great experiences and wonderful memories.

It is true that for many of us, myself included and at the top of the list, cooking is not exactly what we want to do. Sure, I would rather be throwing darts (with the board preferably overlaid with a picture of my last disastrous relationship), playing ping-pong, or swimming at the club. To be brutally honest, many of us would rather have root canal without anesthetic than be forced to cook something in the kitchen. If you are one of those people, then I hope this book takes you a bit closer to experiencing the enjoyment of cooking for yourself and family.

Of course, there are innumerable ways for any dedicated parent to bind the family together. Do not be fooled by your status of being “single”. If you have children - then you have a family. For whatever reasons, good or bad, the family unit has “changed” or made a metamorphosis into something you didn’t quite plan on or expect. However, it still is a family – one that demands time, patience, constant nurturing, and endless love. Cooking for the children is just one of those ways that we are able to show our desire to keep the family unit together.

(To Be Continued...)

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September said...

I chuckled all the way through this. (especially when I got to the list!) What a refreshing little story. I loved it - spaghetti, by the way, was one of the first things I learned to cook.
Of course, now that I read part 1, I need to go read the rest...
thanks, Teddy.