When it comes to food, there are a few different personalities, such as: those who are bonafide Foodies hoping to eat only meals worthy of savoring, not just digesting; those who are gastronomically adventurous and like to eat as though they are filming a reality television show, climbing ever higher on the food chain; and those who eat, simply to survive. I fall somewhere in between, depending on my mood and the day. I love relishing the best of the best, sir (when I can); trying the rare and exotic (when I can) and even just eating what I must (when I have to).
The preparation of food is also a mixed bag of nuts for me, as I adore having the opportunity to take time to cook for those I love (when I can), I’m excited about the adventure of trying new and unusual recipes (when I can) and don’t mind rustling up just the staples of what’s living in my pantry and fridge after a long and exhausting day (when I have to).
Despite having varied emotions and opinions about food and cooking, it is safe to say that I am also very emotional and opinionated about food and cooking. Harriet Van Horne once said that, “Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.” Food and Love. Love and food. In my book, two of the best things. Ever. Combine the two and it can also be a recipe for… well, not quite disaster. But, close. Especially when cooking for the one you love, who is more of a Eat-to-Live individual.
The other night, I served some soup to the Viking Beau (now fiancé) and asked innocently, “So, what do you think?” hoping for at least a 3, if not 4, star review. What I got initially was: “It’s okay.”
Gentlemen, allow me to be your friendly guide in the forest-y jungles where the sometimes unhinged womenfolk with claws live: OKAY is never okay. Not when assessing anything having to do with how we look, how we feel or what we have created in the name of love (this includes, but is not limited to, off-spring). The word “okay” (and it’s bizarre abbreviated versions of “o.k.” and “ok”), has 1,001 interpretations that we, and only we, know the multiple definitions of and can scan through in our minds in a nanosecond. Seriously, you’re so cute thinking it only has one meaning. You’re an idiot.
While I worked really hard to maintain composure during the “okay” portion of the verbal evaluation of the meal, the Viking expounded, rather Zagat-like, spoon in hand. “On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say it’s a 7.” He smiled (big mistake, considering what came out of his beautiful mouth next) and concluded with, “It’s edible.”
It was at this point I stopped the rolodex at “okay” classification #764 and found myself going all Samuel L. Jackson in an apron on him. “Edible? EDIBLE?! Say edible one more time. I dare you. Say EDIBLE. One. More. Time!!”
You can blanch vegetables all you want until the cows come home looking for alfalfa, but you haven’t lived until you’ve blanched your dining companion into paralysis where they sit.
I could not stop myself. “Say EDIBLE again and I will mess you up. You do not have to let the word EDIBLE ever fall out of your face again. Not ever. Not in MY kitchen!”
No. If you’re going to use ‘edible’ in a sentence in my presence, when there is sweat on my brow and an apron bow on my back, you might first want to check to see if Abercrombie & Fitch has a flak jacket in your size coming up in their Fall Collection.
To be fair, this is a man who is cool, logical and is in the habit of assessing the world at large in an intelligent fashion and in an incredibly articulate way. Which, I love. For the most part, it is his Spock-like nature that just sends me. However, when I’m wielding the knife and spoon and asking you how you like that which is laid before you, I do believe I want a little more James T. Kirk Lovin’ from the Oven and his broken syntax, whether from gratitude or stupititude (not a word, but you get my gist). According to Captain Kirk, “Intuition. However illogical... is recognized - as - a - command… prerogative.” (from the Star Trek episode Obsession). I have no idea what that means, but I’m pretty sure Kirk would’ve exercised his prerogative not to use the word “edible” when being served interplanetary tubers in gopher Hollandaise sauce by a girl with hoses coming out of her head and a plutonium fueled taser in her hand. While I’m not that girl, I’m not off by much.
Once my head stopped spinning, I explained that, to me -- cooking and serving is akin to baring my soul. I’m serving up more than a meal. I’m giving away a little bit of me as a side dish. I cook for those I care for, or not at all. Even when preparing a meal for myself, it is very telling what kind of space I’m in, as to what I choose to nurture myself with (or not). How much time, thought and preparation goes into a meal is directly proportionate to how I’m feeling about myself. So, if I cook for you and come up short on what your tastebuds were hoping for, I’m going to ask that you engage some of those other senses (and sensibility) to gauge the meal by. Logic be darned, just smile and say, “Thank you. It filled the spot.”
And go make yourself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“Dining with one’s friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal.” – Julia Child
“For the first time, I know what it is to eat. I have gained four pounds. I get frantically hungry and the food I eat gives me a lingering pleasure. I never ate before in this deep carnal way… I want to bite into life and to be torn by it.” – Anais Nin