Nursery Food

mozz with Babacar

Harried cook making mozzarella with a child in 2008

I had all sorts of plans for the weekend. It was due to rain on Saturday and clear on Sunday, so I thought I’d do chores, clean, and grocery shop while it rained and then stain the run-in shed in the sunshine.

Nope, it drizzled all weekend. However my family doesn’t mind when I spend more time around the house. The meals improve. On Saturday we had grilled rib-eye steaks, fresh bread, baked butternut squash with drizzled maple syrup, and green beans.

I wish I had the enthusiasm for cooking that many of my friends do. They are as excited by a new recipe as I am about finding a new chick under a hen. I, conversely, could be called a dogged cook. I cook because we have to eat, and I try to nourish my family properly with fresh and (as much as possible) home-grown ingredients, but there is no spark or dazzle for me. I’m afraid when considering a meal I tend to remember the number of pots and pans that will have to be washed.

Part of this may be a basic lack of interest in food. To say I’m an unadventurous eater would be a major understatement. I wasn’t exposed to a wide variety when I was young and I am not someone who likes to try new things. When I was in my early thirties, we moved to the D.C. metropolitan area. DH suggested Chinese food. “I don’t like Chinese food,” I said. He and I had lived in a very rural town for ten years and my only association was childhood meals of canned La Choy chow mein noodles with canned glop featuring ginger slices (as a little girl I thought it was sliced bamboo) poured on top. DH prevailed, we ordered Chinese take-out, and surprise! I loved it! However, this experience unfortunately did not open the door to a new me.

DH has many meetings over restaurant meals. He always reads the menus carefully. He loves to try new things. He would try Grilled Sneaker Treads if someone convinced him that somewhere it was nouvelle cuisine.

I, on the other hand, rarely go out and when I do I like to order the same thing. I have to remind myself not to be upset if, two years later, a restaurant has changed its menu.

It won’t surprise anyone to learn that the staple meals I prepare are very basic: burgers, lamb chops, pasta casseroles, beef stew, shepherd’s pie, cheese omelettes, chicken, pot roasts, meatloaf, baked potatoes, hearty soups. I was reading an English novel recently and a character referred to this sort of menu contemptuously as nursery food.

Of course! Nursery food! I ate all of these things as a child and my taste buds have never grown up. In fact, if someone were to serve me a plate of hot, crusty corned beef hash with poached eggs on top (a delicious feature of my childhood that mysteriously I’ve never attempted to replicate) I’d dive in.

I thought I was the worst possible culinary stick-in-the-mud but I’ve been topped. Last night Allen called to plan work for today. I told him I was making vanilla ice cream for our family dessert. (Allen loves vanilla ice cream.) Then I mentioned I’d just finished making a pound of fresh mozzarella cheese and had mixed up a batch of pizza dough and that soon Lucy and I would build our homemade pizzas for dinner. Silence.

“I don’t like pizza,” Allen said finally.

“You don’t? Why not? You don’t like tomato sauce?”

He laughed. “Ain’t never had it.” It turns out that Allen, too, prefers nursery food. He never ate pizza as a child — why try it?

My dear friend Alison turned 50 last week. I am taking her out for a birthday supper. She loves lobster and a local restaurant is having a $12.95 special.

Of course you can guess: I’ve never eaten lobster. But just for Alison, because I love her, I’m going to try some.

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3 Responses to Nursery Food

  1. Noodles says:

    Those bamboo slices were water chestnuts.
    Love,
    N.

    • adkmilkmaid says:

      Oh, yes, you must be right. I was racking my brains this morning, wondering what the “bamboo” really could have been! 🙂

  2. Jane Wellker says:

    I can still taste that awful La Choy Chicken chow mein. ***Bleck!!!***

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