Betty Duffy

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Artiste in the Kitchen

My husband is one of the most phlegmatic people I’ve ever met. Many moons ago, when his sister was trying to convince me that I should go on a date with him, she said, “You might have to flick him periodically just to make sure he’s awake.” There are, however two places on this earth where he becomes very animated, and indeed, a bit of an artiste (and I mean that with an E): his workshop and in the kitchen.

I’ll save the workshop description for another day. The kitchen is currently on my mind, because last night, my husband decided to make dinner. He cooks a couple times a month, and when he does, you can bet it’s either going to be blueberry pancakes, or chili. Last night was chili night.

The reason his cooking is so interesting to me is because my cooking is so incredibly utilitarian and boring. I operate in the kitchen under very strict principles of maximizing ease and minimizing labor. Therefore, I wait until the last minute to do meal preparations, and then I decide what to cook based on what can be made using the least number of dishes. I have dispensed with any pans that I find large, heavy, and cumbersome to wash. I don’t keep kitchen gadgets. I recently threw away my wire whisk because a fork does essentially the same job and takes up less space in the dish washer. Even my hand mixer, which I used to be smug about because it wasn’t a counter top mixer, broke about a year ago, and now I’m smug that I haven’t replaced it. I get by with a wooden spoon, a spatula, a good knife and my mom’s old Farberware pans.

My husband on the other hand seems to make it his particular challenge to use every pot, pan, dish and utensil in the kitchen when he’s cooking. He browned the meat for the chili in three different skillets. He had me chopping onions for him, which he thought not chopped enough, so he confiscated my good knife and proceeded to fast chop Emeril style occasionally dragging my good knife long blade across the cutting board to sort the onions off to the side. He likes to measure his ingredients in separate dishes, then toss them into the pot with sweeping gestures and long strides from one end of the counter to the stove. He is graceful. He doth dance around his stew, and makes the children believe that something very magical and beautiful is happening in the kitchen, and indeed, Daddy is making dinner.

Herein lies the problem: He believes that the cook should never have to wash his own dishes. I believe that this attitude discourages good dish stewardship and causes him to use more dishes than necessary since he doesn’t have to pay the piper at the end of the meal. This rule also only applies when he is the cook. Hmmm….

This particular batch of chili also happened to be inedible since he went a little crazy on the de arbol peppers. The kids were all crying around the dinner table with the spicy chili dripping down their chins, and even my husband had to wipe the sweat off the top of his head in between bites. All of this worked well for me last night, since I had prepared a cabbage salad as accoutrement to the dinner and didn’t imagine that I would be able to coerce the kids into eating it. When given the choice between “being tough” enough to eat their bowl of chili, or cop out and have some of “Mommy’s Salad” they all took the salad option.
So that is how to make your kids eat raw cabbage.


JenX67 said...

When my husband offers to cook, I secretly sigh, "Oh, don't do me any favors." And, he always cooks the same thing. He puts flour tortillas over the burners on the stove, heats up a can of beans and cuts up pieces of sausage and cheese. The last time he did this and we all sat down to eat my three-year-old looked at me and said, "Momma, where's my dinner?"

John said...

For the artistes in the family (Mrs., Mr., Dikiter...) trying to remain true to both their art and morality: