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Coffee With Petits Fours Anyone? But Foodie Blogger I Am Not.

April 7, 2008

As someone who owns stacks of cook books, reads monthly “gourmet” magazines, and peruses food blogs on a regular basis, it would seem to those who don’t know me well, that I love to cook. Or even can.

I grew up watching my mother chop, flip, roast, bake or generally go overboard in the kitchen whenever my parents entertained, and sometimes I was roped in to help: this usually meant desert making which is still a favorite. Despite the thorough training from a creative teacher, nowadays I have to psych myself up a week in advance to do anything that requires more than a couple of ingredients. In my heart I’m a cook but this flesh of mine has not yet cottoned onto that idea.

N and I have a nice kitchen, good pots and pans, and many gadgets (far too many in his view even though he does the everyday cooking and uses most of them). I suspect that my 16 years as a vegetarian, which ended years ago, might have quenched my “ardor” for the slightly more elaborately made meals I made prior to that diet. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’m not denigrating vegetarian food, there are many wonderful recipes (and on occasion I’ve made some), but I got very lazy and most of the meals I put together were casserole-types which my children grew to hate. My husband at the time would eat anything I put in front of him, but the kids got bored. I was tired after a day at work and had no inspiration or time for anything that required effort, so they got a dish that was sometimes (perhaps more than that) concocted in one giant pot.

When my children were very young my ex and I belonged to a group that participated in gourmet dinners once a month, taking it in turns to host the evening. When it was to be at our house, I pored over recipes for weeks, made lists, made a list from those lists, duplicated it, checked it thrice, spent hours shopping and even more hours preparing: cooking alone, setting the table, cleaning up the house, arranging flowers etc, etc, etc. so that by the time the guests arrived, I was pooped out. The food was usually good, sometimes even better than good, the trouble was that everyone in the group was a fabulous cook, an even greater critique and each had a vastly inflated opinion as connoisseur, so that after each meal the ante got upped. That’s how it appeared to me: I felt a growing pressure to out perform myself (and everyone else) and it stopped being fun.

I suspect the last straw that broke this unseasoned cook’s back was a meal that partly consisted of an elaborate piece of rolled and stuffed boneless leg of lamb, that I rolled and stuffed, laboring over it with herbs and spices and a myriad of unpronounceable ingredients, then unfortunately left it unguarded on the kitchen counter for a nano second while clearing the soup dishes off the table. On returning to the kitchen there was Fido standing on his hind legs chomping the center of the meat, while the two cats, Fifi and Gorgeous, commandeered each end. Somehow I managed not to throw the dish with attached animals through the window, scream, swear or flee as I was at a complete loss as how to proceed, but after an elephantine swig of good red wine (from the bottle) then some handy knife slicing antics, hacking what was left to pieces (minus the canine/feline teeth marks), patching it together on individual plates accompanied by “creature untouched” vegetables, and sauce, I then served it to our unsuspecting guests. They loved it, and couldn’t stop complimenting the chef and her unseen “helpers,” but after the three deserts and petits fours with coffee, I hung up my gourmet dinner hat, obviously deficient in the “endurence for potential cooking disasters” department and keeping up with the Joneses “whimsy.”

But, perhaps I should keep my options open.

À votre santé!

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