I’m already thinking ahead to next Christmas and that I’ll likely make a dish. Perhaps something that I can’t pronounce like bolognese. Meat is definitely a requirement.
What happens when you try to come up with a menu to appease seven human beings, each with differing dietary restrictions, penchants, picadillos, likes, dislikes, preferences, predilections, disinclinations, propensities, and predispositions?
Answer: Exponential permutations.
Good news. It looks like we’ll only need 128 different dishes to satisfy everyone.
My wife used her iPhone to send a recipe to my iPad.
Remember the video footage of all the wonderful things the iPad could do? Boundless creativity. Family photos. Reading books. Painting masterpieces. Getting jiggy with some tunes. Keeping up on current events. Watching movies. Organizing your life. Unparallelled worlds of productivity. Publishing novels. Maps to everywhere. Recipes in the kitchen.
Recipes in the kitchen? Are you kidding me?
They showed busy home cooks and restaurant chefs consulting the magical device while they cooked. Just a touch away, all the knowledge of cookie at your fingertips.
I figured I’d give it a try. I clicked the recipe link my wife had sent and it opened a page in Safari that was consumed by about 80 percent advertising. Video was playing. Things were blinking. “What the?” I stammered, befuddled by the onslaught on my senses.
“Where the hell is the friggin’ recipe?!”
Oh, yeah. Right. They didn’t mention that part. You have got to have useable content for the iPad to be able to be of much use. Otherwise it’s pretty much the world’s most energy inefficient paperweight.
I squinted and looked really hard. There it is! I found the recipe buried alive and in a tiny tiny font. I used a gesture to try to to expand the page and make it look bigger. No dice. I looked for a print button. No dice. I checked the address bar for the world-famous Safari “reader” mode. Nope.
In desperation I made the commute to my office where I could actually read the page. I was hungry.
At last. I see we have a recipe from Emeril Lagasse. I looked over the instructions. “Pour the reserved liquid and grime into a saucepan and bring to a simmer.”
Crap. Here we go again.
Grime?! Grime?! Grime?! Is this some kind of master chef word that has eluded me throughout my career? “Oh, grime. Why are you so coy?”
“Honey!!! Where the hell is the grime???”
I went back to the kitchen and chucked the prep so far. It was time to improvise. At least the iPad made a serviceable cutting board. Finally! Dice at last!
As I write this I have butterflies in my stomach…
It is time to regale a simple tale
born hatched of humble beginnings. A tale years in the making. It’s a tale that will turn your stomach. And it is one that must never, ever be told. So keep reading. You’ll be glad you did.
Two drosophila walk into a bar. The bartender asks, “What’ll you have?” One points at the other and says, “Ask him. He’s supposed to be the genus.”
–Tom B. Taker
For once I will set aside petty narcissism and histrionics. The tale is too damn important. It must not be tarnished by cheap tricks or overt grabs at drama. So the telling will be without hyperbole. It will be simply told. I want this post to stand the test of time so future generations thousands of years from now will truly appreciate the moment and say things like, “That shit is fucked up. Can this even be real?”
Come. Let us retire to the Puparium and I will tell the tale anon.
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Al Dente? Who the hell is he? LOL! No, he’s not a person. He’s a thing. Al dente is actually Italian. It means “this bites.” (Disclaimer: This is a guess. I was too lazy to google. –Ed.)
In honor of my wife asking me to think about what I’ve learned during ten years of marriage (our anniversary is next week) I thought really hard and remembered spaghetti.
That’s using the old noodle!
My wife, although technically not a “chef,” is nonetheless extremely accomplished and talented in the kitchen. She really knows how to cook. Naturally this is both good and bad. Good in the sense that there are a lot of good eats. Bad in the sense that every meal dirties every pot, pan and kitchen implement in the house.
It’s bad in one other small way. It’s such a slight of a trifle that it’s almost not worth mentioning. Almost.
Every single thing I do is wrong. In the kitchen, I mean.
So there I was this one time making spaghetti. That means I had dumped some packaged noodles in a pot of boiling water. To me that’s “cooking.”
As was often my wont, when the timer went off I picked up the pot and dumped the noodles in a colander in the sink.
My wife saw. “What the hell are you doing?” she yelled.
Oh shit. Little Tommy in trouble.
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There’s really no point to this post. Leave. Now. -Ed.
Feed. It’s what’s for dinner. Mmm. That sounds good. I’ll have that! Yeah, I’m a hundred and six years old, and I still make my own bread! (Prideful braggart.)
Well, what do you want to eat? Mmm. Do you have biscuit with a little bit of mustard on it? Mmm.
I don’t know about your family but in my family we have this tradition. Any time we assemble to break break together (or biscuit or whatever) there’s one thing we’ll do for sure: Discuss and speculate about the next meal a comin’.
It’s pretty much the exact opposite of being mindful and appreciative. Someone went to a lot of effort and bother to put this food before us. First, they had to have a vision and plan the damn thing, and that may be the hardest part of all. Then they went to a grocery store and spent money on stuff and brought it home. Then, using recipes and their own skills, prepared, assembled and cooked it all together while we sat on our lazy asses.
Yeah, I think they deserve more appreciation than us talking about the next meal we plan to shove in our face holes.
That said, where do you wanna go? To eat? That’s the conversation my wife and I had last night.
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It was exactly over three years ago today (give or take a few months) that I wrote a sublime piece about how “specials” work in restaurants. Today I’m giving out a free “upgrade,” a side serving of regurgitation. You only have to provide your own sour cream, chives and bacon. As always, I bring the butter.
In a rare and provocative behind-the-scenes glimpse of how this blog works (I’ll be brief) you should know that not all of my posts are carefully planned and storyboarded months in advance. Not all of them. Sometimes they are knee-jerk reactions to last-minute things. I really should have a category called “Oh Shit.”
Take last night for example. My wife and I went out to eat. Mainly because our kitchen was destroyed by the act of packing for the big move. As we walked into the place the “specials” board caught our eye. We paused and gave it the once over.
“Hmm,” my wife said. “They have a carrot salad for $8. That sounds good.”
Whatever, crazy person. Good for their bank account, maybe.
Once seated I was perusing the menu without much success when I heard my wife say, “Oh, shit.”
“What’s wrong?” I asked, looking up and suddenly terrified.
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