There's this trend I've noticed on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. People make themselves ornate, elaborate dinners, seven nights a week, then take a picture of it, then post that picture. They also have to tell you what the picture is. "Raspberry barbecue lamp chops, thumbtack-infused couscous, baby's butt beets. Chocolate-inspired boiled water for dessert! #YUMTOWNUSA." It's a little much. Yes, it's terribly impressive that you've made this complicated, intricate feast, but also, it's 6 pm on a Tuesday and you're just eating with your dumb husband who just grabs his crotch in repose, even when there's company over, and we're all just supposed to ignore it, but what's he protecting, y'know? To me, there's something a bit sad about crafting a special meal for a regular occasion. But I am in the minority.
Since moving from the big city to a smaller city, we've traded a tiny living-space for a normal apartment. We finally have a kitchen big and functional enough to use the burners AND the stove at the same time, and cut things on a cutting board that rests on a counter, not on the floor. The Doc and I can both stand in the kitchen at the same time without accidentally making love. For this reason, and because I'm too old not to know how, I am cooking. I have mastered the basics (I can burn over 10 meals now!) but maybe I need to take it a step further.
Dream: Become a foodie.
Goal: Achievable. Throughout my life, I've definitely been more of an eatie. However, like a music critic who can't play an instrument, or an internet porn fan who's never had sex, perhaps I should be less of an appreciator and more of a participator.
Plan: Take more cooking risks in order to make delicious, satisfying, and inspiring meals every night.
I could start by buying fresh and occasionally obscure ingredients. There's supposedly an excellent Farmer's Market every Saturday morning here in town, but that sounds like the least appealing place to take my Friday-night hangover. Why does it have to be in the morning? I think I'd be way too ambitious, as well. "Ooh, look at all these radishes! Honey, let's have radishes every night! Pop the trunk, I'm gonna load in these radishes!" Also, I'm sorry, but is insufferable smugness a requirement to attend one of these things? When referring to the Farmer's Market the other day, someone sneered at me contemptibly, "Don't tell me you buy your apples from the store!" Like it was the worst thing in the world. Like Sobeys dips their apples in french fry grease and cigarette butts before putting them in the produce section. Then people wax on about the benefits of organic food. It tastes better, I get that. If given a choice, I'd pick organically produced products over non for that reason. But it's not any more nutritious for you than non-organic food. And of course Monsanto is evil and harmful, of course it is. But in terms of genetically modifying food, salt-tolerant rice will save millions of people from fucking starving to death, so let's keep things in perspective.
Fancy food also gets people to those specialty markets that is just one Tori Amos cd away from becoming a homosexual recruitment centre. Pretentiousness flows from these establishments like the coca-cola they'd never sell. I was forced to go in one the other day looking for anchovies, which used to be a supermarket staple, but is now impossible to find. For the record, I was making Nigella's Slut'sSpaghetti which is delicious and easy to make and requires zero fresh ingredients. Anyway, the nose-ringed, overall-ed, outdoor music festival attendee with a name like Rain or Gazebo working behind the counter behaved like I was a child buying cigarettes. "Anchovies!? We certainly don't sell those!" Then he peered over his horned-rims to ensure I wasn't in a wheelchair, stricken with gout.
The thing none of these holier-than-thou foodies is willing to concede is that making ornate, complex dinners is an expensive and (dare I say) elitist past-time. Maybe we'd all buy farm-fresh pears and free-range Doritos if we had the means. And while I'm sure a bag of lentils is more healthful and even cheaper than the box of frozen hamburgers, just where does one find the lentils section of a Shop'N'Save? I've been volunteering a little bit at Meals on Wheels. I get to write their newsletter now but I started by taking a couple of initial shifts in their kitchen. That is a meat and potatoes operation if ever I saw one. Every meal they eventually wheel contains a meat, a starch, two veggies, and a dessert. That's really all you need, isn't it?
Finally, making a fancy dinner part of your normal routine completely takes the fun out of fancy dinners. I'd love to roast a chicken and serve fresh something on a bed of something else, and damn if it doesn't taste better after last night's dinner of tuna fish and Honey Nut Cheerios. If you are what you eat, I'd rather not be expensive and full of weird tiny bones. I'd settle for being cheap if I meant I got to be tasty and fun. What I'm saying is, eat me.