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Who’s Cooking Tonight?
My husband (Barry) cooks dinner most of the time now. When someone asks me about my cooking, I always tell them that I am very tired of cooking. He explains that I provided dinner for many years when our children were growing up while he was working long hours and now is his time. Barry adds that he loves to eat and cooking allows him to cook his favorite dishes.
He is absolutely there! If I were to serve dinner, I would recreate old dishes that I have been cooking for years. I wouldn’t be cutting recipes from newspapers and magazines like she does; my dinner follows the same pattern – simple, quick and put together with minimal mess.
Out of necessity, I started cooking when I was twelve years old. Both parents worked at the grocery store and sometimes my mother was late coming home. He would usually make dinner and have something in the fridge ready to put on the stove or in the oven so he would call me and give me step by step instructions on what to do next. When we moved upstairs, it was easy for him to run up the stairs and get dinner ready but he still left some things for me to prepare.
However, I had a lot to learn. One year, for my mother’s birthday, I decided to make her a cake myself. I started very early, my parents were still asleep and soon I was in trouble. I had all the ingredients in a mixing bowl but I couldn’t figure out how to put the sprinkles in the mixer. I know, I know. This should have been easy to figure out but this was my first time using the machine. I then woke up my mother in the hope that she would answer me easily and go to sleep. Yes, he got up and went into the kitchen, shaking audibly when he saw the mess I made.
A few years later, when I was in my late teens, my parents went on a trip and left me in charge of serving dinner to Sukie, the general manager and butcher who was running the store while they were away. I wanted to impress Sukie who was in her 20’s and very good looking, so I decided to roast chicken. I worked hard on that meal and when he came upstairs to eat dinner, I proudly put the whole chicken on the plate in front of him. He took a fork and a knife and had just finished cutting the chicken in half when he started laughing. When I came to see what was funny, he reached over to the chicken and pulled out a bag of giblets. I didn’t know he was in there. In fact, at that time I did not know who he was.
Actually, I’m a good cook (or so I’ve been told). My specialties tend to be holiday dishes; potatoes and noodles kugel, chicken soup, brisket, honey cake, potatoes and marshmallows melted on top, stuffing, carrot tsimmes. I like to cook one-pot meals that everyone puts in one pot and cleans up a bit (soups, stews, roasts). I have prepared a “really easy” meal; grilled meat, microwave vegetables, boiled potatoes. I love to eat and appreciate good food but after years of feeding my family, I have no problem throwing in the towel – literally!
Barry has enjoyed cooking for many years. His medical school classmate was from Texas and taught Barry how to make Mexican dishes. His roommate also taught Barry how to make Margaritas and sometimes the two friends couldn’t get enough of the big bowl. Barry made me enchiladas on our first date and, in retrospect, I believe I should have recognized the possibilities of the future even then.
When he was still on his own, I looked into his future by giving him the gift of cooking lessons that he loved. A few years later, we went to Albuquerque, New Mexico so she could attend a Southwestern cooking class. When we arrived, we were told that there were only three people in the class so I could also attend for a reduced price. I politely declined and spent most of each day sightseeing, always making sure to return to cooking class in time for the students’ meals.
In his retirement years, Barry has worked as a chef. He has acquired many cookbooks that he reads for pleasure. He is very fond of national and international cuisines such as Indian curries, Thai spices, Spanish dishes such as Paella, and, of course, Mexican food. She likes hot and spicy dishes and sometimes the heat is too much for me. And sometimes, the latest dish doesn’t make the taste test. But most of the time, our dinner is in conflict with the food that is put on the table in the best restaurants. In fact, his dinner has made it difficult to find a good restaurant when we eat.
The biggest problem with Barry’s cooking is that he always likes to try something new. This means that the fried eggplant in garlic sauce that we had last night and that I loved until the last piece of eggplant will not be seen again for years. The good news is that I can taste something almost every night.
So, most of the time, when he wants a good night’s sleep, I go to the kitchen and pull out what I always cook: meatloaf, spaghetti, pot roast or roast chicken. We enjoy it because it has been a long time since we had dinner with them. And that’s how I want to keep it!
PS: Thanks, Barry, for all the great food.
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