I eat with a sense of adventure. My Man eats with a sense of aversion. I'm always up for something new, something different. My Man would be thrilled if I served spaghetti, baked ziti, grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, corn, and pizza on a weekly basis.
Happily, our local library has a spectacular cookbook section. They are brimming with the classics from Julia Child and Martha Stewart to the latest and trendiest cookbooks coming off the presses like The Steamy Kitchen, The Farm Chicks and Rachel Ray. They have Italian, Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Japanese and many other international cookbooks on their shelves as well.
I frequently check out 4 or 5 cookbooks at a time. I can hardly wait to see what these treasures have to offer. I've been known to leaf through their pages at stop lights on the way home from the library. Upon arriving home, however, I shelve those babies behind the kids' library books post haste. NOTHING terrifies my Man more than the sight of a new cookbook. I've found that introducing one tiny new dinner offering at a time is much less overwhelming than the threat of a whole new cookbook full of them.
When I find a new recipe that I think might be well received by my Man and my pickiest child, I prepare it for dinner. Then "the dance" begins. My Man comes home and asks the age old question, "What's for dinner tonight?"
I answer as vaguely as possible, "Chicken with other stuff."
He, who has been married for fifteen years to a woman with whom he has little in common with in terms of food, asks further, "What kind of chicken?"
I, desperately wanting to expand my Man's food horizons, answer in greater detail, "Chicken cooked in the oven."
He, lowering his eyebrows, cuts to the chase, "Is there anything in it that I don't like?"
This is the most difficult question I have had to answer in our married life. It is at this point every time, that I am tempted to lie through my teeth. I have learned through the years, that whether I come clean or not, my Man will not be fooled. There is a chance, I reason, that he has never sampled, let's say pimentos, so answering that last question with "I'm not sure," would technically be honest, but would definitely raise suspicion.
In the event that the preliminary questioning goes well, (and it generally does these days because I've lowered my expectations on just how gastronomically eager my Man will be, and because I know what questions are on the test!) we sit down to dinner.
Here's how it will go...My pickiest eater will arrive at the table with her face a bit scrunched up. The older kids will be excited to sample the new dish. Molly will begin chanting, "Me, Molly, Me," as if we often forget to pass a plate to her. The blessing is asked, forks are picked up, and the meal begins.
I start to eat, pretending not to notice when my Man gets to the new stuff. After what seems like an eternity, he has worked up the courage to eat what is before him. He takes a bite or two and then, one of two things might happen: he likes the dish and continues eating it, or he doesn't like it and moves on to the applesauce or the mashed potatoes hoping to get enough nourishment to last him until breakfast.
In either case, my Man will make no comment!! A wise woman would know or at least learn to leave well enough alone. No compliment yet no complaint. If the kids like it that should be enough, there are more kids than husbands to feed in this place after all! A wise woman I've never claimed to be however, and I simply CANNOT let it alone. I MUST KNOW.
"Well, how do you like it?"
Option 1: "It's OK."
Translation: "I don't hate it. It isn't making me sick at this moment."
Option 2: "How much onion did the recipe call for?"
Translation: "I forgot to ask if it had onion in it again, will I ever learn? Please don't fix this again, ever."
Option 3: "This is a DO OVER."
Translation: "I will happily eat this again."
Option 4: "This is a Double DO OVER."
Translation: "I will happily eat this again. In fact, I'll probably request this meal next Tuesday and every Tuesday thereafter."
Option 4 has occurred five times in our fifteen years. Someday, I'll share these recipes. I have marked them in my cookbooks with brightly colored markers. "Double Do Over!!!!!" I'm always surprised. It never happens with the recipes that I think will get the coveted Double Do Over rating.
Tonight, I scored a Double Do Over. I'm excited. The recipe was from a library cookbook by a Food Network chef. It even included an ingredient that I had never used before. My picky eatin' child ate it too. I'll tell ya all about it next post. Until then I can tell you that it was chicken...cooked in the oven!