Anybody who does a lot of cooking is likely to do even more fussing and worrying over what to have for dinner, and a new wrinkle is likely to cause a certain amount of consternation. Nancy got here about eight last night after a mozzerella sandwich at Whole Foods so the question of feeding her didn’t come up until this morning, when Jim, frying up bacon and eggs for himself after a rough night rescuing young beer drinkers, shouted, But Nancy is a vegetarian.
Doors seemed to begin opening and closing all over the house. There are so many details to preparing a proper dinner, and then when more than one opinionated person is involved it all gets a bit stickier. And then when one of the opinions is one’s own (female — mid-1940′ s) it gets even harder. The need to honor the needs of a guest almost disappears as two vie for the menu championship.
Jim is very strong and it seems that for even the smallest job, such as putting the cap back on the strawberry jam, he brings all of his strength into play. The cap is screwed on so tightly he will be the only one strong enough to open it. He swings the egg pan in a wide and mysterious arc and the eggs turn over without spilling the bacon grease. He appears to be tossing plates and knives, and while he waits for the final, crucial, moment for the eggs he noisily scrubs last night’s noodle pot. Imagine. While all this is going on, he still has the moxie to dream up a dinner.
How about ratatouille? Fiona offers her own thought. She says she doesn’t like it. I say it’s not enough that chicken is necessary to fill it out.
How about spaghetti Putanesca?
Now that’s exactly right. But it’s not enough.
Those thin pork chops in the freezer.
You remember I am a grown man.
I like the pork chops, Fiona says.
Through it all to the final berry sauce on ice cream, past the entertaining discussion of putanesca which means whore, past the thick pork chop for work that Jim will sacrifice to his dinner tonight, past insalata misto, patient Nancy has not offered one single word. She remains a vegetarian in good standing; We get our meat, and all we have lost could be called gaining, I guess, since the conversation was so much funI it looks like all I have to do is get some anchovies, since I can’t find them anywhere. I’m sure I’ve mentioned the broken down basement stairs, the new laundry stuff, the new pantry type shelves by the stairs and so on. Now the shelves are back and the food restocked, but the anchovies that I swear were there, are simply nowhere to be found, and I must go to the store. Really, taking care of the food is both tedious and energizing. Short bursts of creative energy follow mental doldrums that threaten to kill all thought, and then some little thing, like Fiona not liking ratatouille starts the process all over again, a process which continues until an agenda has been determined, and the next step in meal preparation will require a sauce. I think we’re pretty capable of that, and I just wonder, why don’t governments use a friendly quarrel to solve some of these intractable problems we are puzzled by.