First written about five years ago
I’m known for my cooking. How I wish that were not so.
I burn things, miss some of the ingredients, or forget what I added then put them in all over again.
It’s right there in my books, on my blog, and in the memories of everyone who knows me. And now nobody trusts my cooking.
Take my friend Marilyn.
“Do come for lunch”, I say.
“Oh, great,” she says. “You choose the restaurant.”
“Choose the wha….?”
What’s the point in visiting a person at home if you’re going to go out for lunch, I think? But I was so glad to see Marilyn, I didn’t say it.
Then there’s Elaine.
“You make the tea,” she said. “But I’ve read your book. So I’ll bring something for us to eat.”
Then one day Jane took sick. Sick people are usually glad to eat what someone else cooks, so I decided to make her one of the few dishes I do well.
Hmm. Cauliflower stew?
“I could make you a roast chicken”, I phoned Jane and said, not revealing the thing was already seasoned and in the oven. I was so sure she’d say “Yes”.
But Jane politely declined. “I have pneumonia,” she said. “Don’t want you to get it.”
“I didn’t know you could catch pneumonia from someone else,” I argued.
“Well, with your luck, you just might,” she replied. “But thank you, dear.”
And with that, she hung up. There’s no balm in Gilead, I thought.
So there I was, stuck with a whole roast chicken sitting in my oven. Or lying on its back, as roast chickens are wont to do. Surrounded by lovely roast potatoes.
But the real reason I didn’t push the chicken is because, since I had to deliver it whole, I wasn’t sure how it tasted.
“How ‘bout we eat half and bring her the other half?” I asked my husband. “That way, we will already know how it tastes. And I’m sure she’ll accept it if I tell her you said it’s good.”
“You can’t bring someone half a chicken!” he replied. “It’s like giving someone your leftovers.”
“But they won’t be leftovers!”
He wasn’t buying it.
What to do?
I’ll cook something for Muriel, I think.
My friend Muriel was in her 80’s, her husband Michael in his 90’s. Michael took seriously ill and had been in the hospital for weeks. Muriel, meanwhile, needed all the help she could get. She spent almost every day at the hospital, returning home exhausted.
I briefly considered giving her a roast chicken too, but then I started to worry – what if it had too much seasoning for her taste? Worse, if she got sick anytime in the next 10 years, I’d know it was my chicken that did it.
Then Muriel called to say Michael was improving. I was so happy, I unthinkingly offered her both roast chicken and butternut squash soup.
She immediately – perhaps wisely – accepted the latter, and I only briefly wondered if Jane had tipped her off.
My soup, meanwhile – made with butternut squash, apples and onions – always turns out well.
So I decided to bring soup for Muriel. And soup for Jane.
Both appreciated it. Success, at last!
But within days, my poor husband claimed he was sprouting feathers.
“Chicken again?” he asked.
Yes, my dear. Until that roast chicken is all gone.