finding my way back to my writing voice, day 2: food

Today’s NaBloPoMo writing prompt is last meal. I believe someone did a coffee table book on the subject, interviewing famous chefs.

(Pauses to Google in a new tab)

Aha! Here it is: My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals / Portraits, Interviews, and Recipes

On the one hand, I should just answer the question. On the other, I like to try to do my own thing, and I like to be cranky about it. Witness:

The problem for me with such a question is that I can’t decide. But that’s the point, you’re supposed to decide. On a recent re-run episode of Anthony Bourdain’s show on the Travel Channel, he played the “last meal” game with a group of young culinary school students. “Wine and cheese,” one said.

“Good answer!” Anthony approved.

(The quote I love most that is attributed to Anthony is the one about chicken on a fine dining menu; he says, “Chicken is for people who can’t decide.”)

…If I said foie gras, you’d know how politically incorrect I am. I feel like a savory souffle would be involved, and lobster.

But I’d rather talk about what we ate today.

Breakfast: Thick, paste-like, gluten-free rice bread with melted goat cheese slices (a la Trader Joe’s) which exude a certain greasy-ness when warmed such that if you had layered little bits of the cheese in order to get it to fit on the “bread” — the bread being smaller and of a different proportion than the square slice of cheese — then while you eat it, the bits that were layered slide apart on their way into your mouth.

Lunch: Jonah’s lunch involved sprouted grain bagels and some fruits and vegetables or other. I didn’t have the patience to read the little index card his teacher leaves next to the sign in sheet. Picking him up from school is a delicate operation involving much repetition and cajolling and if I find my window and actually get him to start exiting the school I have to run with it, food list deciphering be damned. I don’t know if it was listed on the card, but there were slices of beautiful fluffy pan de muertos with a pale pink sugar coating for us to grab and nibble on our way out; prepared by the school assistant, Rocio.

Jonah informed me that they studied/celebrated Day of the Dead today; reported this without prompting (amazing since I’m usually begging for crumbs, so to speak, of information — which has been true ever since he started his first preschool at age 2 and I would ask him, “What did you do today?” and finally, he answered back to me, “Anything?” —which tells you what I usually was saying second).

They read a book about it and made masks (also left behind in my rush to run the bulls preschoolers through the gate while the running was good).

We had one of his best friends with us, and we met up with her mom at the U.C. Botanical garden for a playdate after school. I shlep, she brings awesome snacks. It’s a good arrangement.

Snack: Peanut butter and apricot jam on honey-whole-wheat (primarily eaten by moms after not consumed fully by kids), organic vanilla yogurt with actual tiny bits of vanilla bean in it, and dried mango used as a bribe at the end of the day in order to herd cats children out of the facility and back into the cars.

I never thought that my parenting would involve so much bribing.

After this, I tried to bribe Jonah with ice cream.

He used to love music class. And then he complained about it so we stopped for a few months. But then I saw an opening to make it a regular playdate with another of his best friends. And I talked to the woman who runs the school and she told me the resistance was a developmental stage relating to his awareness of how things are supposed to sound vs. his coordination. So we went back. And that went great for a long time, until our schedules stopped being compatible with the playdate friend. At which point I almost didn’t sign up again. But we only had one session left in order to complete the entire series, to have sung through all nine CDs. And I found another friend to sign up for it with us. So I went for it. One. More. Time. Turned out to be a really bad idea.

The time of day was all wrong, we weren’t able to hang out with the friend before class, Jonah became more and more detailed in his critiques of the class and why he didn’t want to go. “The songs are too looooong.” “I don’t want to participate.”

Goodbye $200.

Some weeks, as the session has been continuing without us, I try, like today, to suggest that we might want to go.

I said, “Hey, let’s get ice cream and go to music class!”

He said, “Let’s get ice cream and go home!”

I said, “Okay.” Because I secretly also just wanted the ice cream. But then I changed my mind and re-bribed.

“How about we go home now and you can have one piece of Halloween candy? And then watch a video.”

(He gets about an hour of video time a day. At whatever hour I need a rest. Especially because he has hardly napped since just before he turned 2, abandoning the practice altogether at about 2 years, 4 months.)

Halloween was rather a drag because the entire afternoon and evening of trick-or-treating was drowned out by a constant whining and endless wheedling for more candy. Which isn’t to say that I controlled his intake very tightly. He must have had at least four lollipops, four chocolate candies, a Starburst, some Smartees, and possibly something else?

So then, I had this idea that maybe I should be the other kind of mom. Maybe it would be better for Jonah if he could just sit down with the bag and go to town. Smoke the whole pack in one sitting, so to speak. I’ve heard of dentists and pediatricians suggesting such things. Somewhere. Or I dreamed it.

Anyway… we got home, I pulled the bag down from the high shelf. (In previous years, I let him obsessively sort and re-sort the candy; which was cute the first year because he didn’t know it was something you ate and was just reveling in the colors and sizes; but not so cute the second year when he was inventorying and mounting arguments for consumption and maybe noticing which ones I was… um… requisitioning.)

I left him alone to dig through the bag, half wondering if he would be a crafty person and sneak some while I wasn’t looking. But a long time went by and all I heard was the rustling. Then he asked for help. He couldn’t find what he was looking for. In a full bag of serious haul.

“Do you want chocolate?” I asked.

“Fruit,” he said.

I showed him the Starburst, I explained the Skittles, we considered a bag of Gobstoppers. “Lollipop!” he announced.

I began pulling them out and holding them in a bouquet as he rejected each one. Large Tootsie Pops, small Tootsie Pops, DumDums, an organic watermelon lollipop of traditional flat shape.

“It was GREEN,” he says.

And then I remember. Dig dig dig dig… AHA!

A large, green, apple-flavored lollipop enrobed in caramel.

YES!

Delighted-ness ensues.

And so the boy was completely content. With his one lollipop. And a few episodes of Dinosaur Train.

And the people said A-MEN… and checked their email and whatnot.

Dinner, part 1: (Too involved in catching up on work and social media-ing, I neglected to cook a group dinner in time for the boy’s bedtime. Am trying to institute the family dinner ritual, but it’s hard for two reasons: the first being that I often want to catch up on work and such when I plunk him in front of TV, rather than start cooking; and the second being that with a non-napping child’s early bedtime over the last couple of years, we grown-ups have grown accustomed to our little ritual of eating a fabulous meal later, in front of the TV, in a well-earned and mutual gluttonous stupor.)

So, as I was saying, Dinner, part 1: Jonah ate about four bites of a chicken sausage and maybe one bite of rice.

Dinner, the grown-ups: Grilled lamb shoulder steaks marinated in orange juice, tamari, honey-mustard, and garlic, rice cooked with ground beef (a 3:1 ratio), topped with raisins and truffle salt, and arugula salad with orange juice and olive oil dressing. While watching Survivor.

And now that I’ve finished this post, I’ll be watching the first episode of Next Iron Chef SuperChefs or whatever it’s called (can’t Google the name because I might accidentally see a spoiler). Because I love food. We’re saving the first episode of Top Chef: Texas to watch with dinner tomorrow night.

And as soon as I figure out how to get the photos off my new iPhone and onto this computer, I’ll start using them to decorate these long wordy posts.

Today’s photo is of a pile of “treasures” the kids collected at the Botanical Garden which they fully intended to take home until they were caught by an employee who informed us all that we were not allowed to take even one leaf with us. A rule I was happy to enforce because my entire life is littered with sticks, leaves, seeds, snail shells, coral pieces, mussel shells, etc., et. al., ad infinitem, which I have been exhorted to “luggage” with us on a daily basis.

4 comments for “finding my way back to my writing voice, day 2: food

  1. Tim
    November 2, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    My dentist sent a letter home with my boys after their checkup last month: all the candy they want, for 3 days. Then it’s gone.
    Liam scored, by his count, 120+ pieces of candy Monday night. OK, I told him, as he was sorting his pile, you can eat 40 pieces tonight, 40 pieces Tuesday night, and 40 pieces Wednesday night. Seriously? he asked me. Sure, I said, because after Wednesday it’s gone.

    He made a good effort (maybe 15 pieces each night?) but tonight, as he gave he the pile of uneaten goodies, he told me: “You know what, I’m kind of sick of candy.”

  2. November 3, 2011 at 6:25 am

    You had a busy day. I let the boys have a dozen or so pieces each, the remaining goes to the shop, with over 5 pounds of candy, we don’t need it.

  3. November 4, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    I’ve often thought about posting what I’ve eaten in a day… Been scared readers will be bored. SO not bored reading your menu. And since I know you’ll appreciate it… Had gluten-free oatmeal with carrot-ginger puree, a touch of butter, stevia, and cinnamon, and toasted pecans for breakfast. YUM.

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