The Cook’s Tale


“There lived a damsel, once, in our city,

And of the craft of victuallers was she;

Happy she was as goldfinch in the glade,

Brown as a berry, short, and thickly made . . .”

“Thickly made”? Pfffft. Down with Chaucer. In modern English, then:

One upon a time, there dwelt a Man. He lived all alone and his fridge contained peanut butter, steak, and the occasional green pepper if he wanted to impress a girl.

Then he met a girl who was not especially impressed. She introduced him to the strange and painful reality of salad. Look, green stuff isn’t just for walking on!

It was a revelation.

Gradually, the girl realized that they weren’t going to get anything cooking together, since there’s a finite number of recipes containing combinations of peanut butter, steak, and green pepper. And salad. So they went over to her place, where there existed a pantry filled with an untold wealth of flours and grains and curry powders and sauces and steak spice and vegetables and lionsandtigersandbearsohmy and things that go bump in the night.

The Man was impressed. He promptly went out and got her a diamond ring.

Score!

So they got married. The first year of marriage was a mix of cooking for two and then not cooking for two months because hurricanes knocked out the power and they ate a lot of hot dogs because that’s the only “meat” Wal-Mart ever stocked post-storm, and when they got sick of flame-blackened franks they had cold canned soup and when that novelty wore off there was always Chili’s or whatever restaurant had power.

Finally they got reconnected and the girl–okay, woman–got cooking again. All sizzled merrily along, and aside from the pantry shelf collapsing at 6 pm on Christmas Eve, followed  by the visitation of a horrible specter known as the Ghost of Cockroach Present–it really was an unforgettable night–the kitchen was paradise.

Then one day there was a bun in the oven, and it wasn’t the carb-containing kind, though it made the woman crave carbs like crazy. When she wasn’t throwing them up, that is. It was the Dark Ages of the kitchen, in which people seemed to get fed but no one can really remember how, because the Man wasn’t really into the cooking thing and the woman was either passed out on the couch or revisiting her lunch in the bathroom.

Time passed. The bun rose into a screaming ball of Maidenity, and there was a new person to start cooking for.

The woman went at it. She perused cookbooks and recipe blogs and magazines. She tried out new stuff and weird stuff and the Maiden loved it and the Man tolerated it and things were good.

Then after a while, they weren’t. Dinner? Right, that thing where there’s supposed to be food hanging around at 6 pm.Work and crazy schedules meant that the traditional five o’clock scramble took on a literal meaning as eggs made their way to the table more often than anyone would have liked.

The woman learned that one can only say cheerily, “Breakfast: it’s what’s for dinner!” so many times.

And while she still fondly imagines serving up the several-course meals of yore, her carefully planned menus only stand as a record of kitchen failures.

Like tonight: TACO NIGHT! YAY!

Wait, the Man didn’t pick up the meat.

Also I don’t have time to prep anything because I was so busy working I forgot about food and it’s 4 pm and I have to go get the Maiden and then she has ballet and then she talked me into letting her audition for Snow White and then I guess it’ll just about be bedtime, so, um . . .

OMELET NIGHT! YAY!

We did not just have this two days ago, and anyways, eggs are healthy.

Breakfast: it’s what’s for dinner. Love it. Live it.

And wash your own dishes.

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