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No Eggplant Please
Oh, the dinners we will have!
When the kids flew the nest, I eagerly anticipated all the new recipes I would cook. No longer would my weekly routine consist of a rotation of pasta, pizza, tacos, and chicken, chicken, chicken. We would have seafood! And things like . . .wait for it… ancient grains . . . and vegetables in every color of the rainbow. I could use all those fancy culinary gadgets I purchased over the years. Can you hear the French bistro music playing in the background?
At this point, I probably don’t have to tell you that isn’t what happened.
To give a little credit to those now-flown-away children and the man I married, they sometimes would try my ratatouille or eggplant parmesan, but more often than not, I had a pot full of the stuff that lasted me for a week of take-to-work lunches. My encouragement to try it, you might like it—sometimes referred to as “forced feeding” by the aforementioned group—was not met with bounding optimism. At times I even caught them ordering takeout pizza—after dinner. The nerve!
One particular, and supposedly romantic, evening sticks out in my memories of dinners gone awry. I had planned a dinner and movie night of Julie & Julia, and to round out the evening I was going to cook a recipe from Julia Child’s famous cookbook. And it wasn’t going to be just any old recipe, I was going for the crown jewel of French cuisine—Beef Bourguignon.
I was so impressed with myself and my obvious skills as a chef that I completely forgot to turn the oven on! I should have realized no delicious aroma was wafting its way from the kitchen. Wasn’t I supposed to stir or baste? Beef Bourguignon is one of those slow-cook recipes after all, but somehow, I bet you already knew that. So at the appropriate time—I did remember to set the timer—I opened the oven to find raw meat. Not ready to admit my failure, my “date” wouldn’t be arriving for another thirty minutes after all, I raced to the microwave. If I set it to high it could cook in time, right? WRONG! The gelatinous goo that I attempted to serve with a smile on my face wouldn’t have been enjoyed by starving children anywhere on the planet. It didn’t even resemble the picture in the book. The dinner I created, and served with quinoa—yes, you can see I’m quite sophisticated—looked more like a pile of brown Flubber crouching on top of a mountain of bird seed.
This is a time where the lessons learned through twenty years of marriage become apparent. My husband, to his credit, did try it . . . even though it was a very small bit that I later found hiding in the folds of his linen napkin. He played his part well, smiling and nodding and moving the glop around the plate. In hindsight, I know why he was so eager to start the movie. Fortunately for us both, we lived to tell the tale.
I still try new recipes, and have perfected some of them. On good days, my meals are met with, “It’s a clapper!” When I hear “good try or “it’s not too bad,” I mark the cookbook with a big red X. I may not get through the entire Mastering the Art of French Cooking like Julie did (after all, there are two volumes), but I’m having fun trying.
It has given us something new to talk about and the only rule from my handsome date is, “No eggplant, please.”