As RouxBarb’s first guest poster, I am so excited to tell you about the meal I cooked for my family last night. They LOVED it, as they always do when I make this particular feast. They all come to the table with great enthusiasm and dig in, and thank me profusely afterwards.
- Pasta (corkscrew shape only).
- One jar pasta sauce (“meat-flavored,” see below).
- Steam-in-bag broccoli.
- One loaf frozen garlic bread.
So I moved to Georgia last summer to be with my then-boyfriend, now-husband. He has two daughters from a previous marriage, ages ten and twelve. Prior to meeting them in the fall of 2008, I had basically zero experience with children, of any age. And I had such big plans. I was going to be the Best Stepmother Ever, you see. I was going to put Carol Brady (well, actually, Alice) to shame. I was going to whip up all the casseroles and comfort foods I remembered fondly from my childhood…I was going to wake up in the mornings and scramble eggs for everyone while whistling cheerfully in my apron…
I was in for a rude awakening when faced with Reality. While Reality presented me with one stepdaughter who will try virtually anything (and thank god for her), Reality also served me up another, more cautious stepdaughter, whose food aversions include:
- eggs (which puts a dent in my happy breakfast fantasy)
- any food that touches or threatens to touch another food (which effectively rules out casseroles)
- visibly detectable spices of any kind
- food with an excess of flavor and/or texture
- foods of the non-chicken-finger or macaroni-and-cheese food groups
[Please see Appendix A for complete list of unacceptable foods, including pasta shapes deemed inedible]
This was tough. I may not be a gourmet chef by any stretch of the imagination, but I adore food. I figure there are some people (like RouxBarb) put on this earth to produce wonderful edible creations and some people (like me) put on this earth to appreciate them. Who would the RouxBarbs of the world feed, otherwise?? So I was inspired to cook for my new family, to introduce them to the foods I loved, to help them grow into healthy eaters and cultured foodies who would linger with me over complicated home-cooked meals.
Instead, I argue in the Publix-brand pasta sauce aisle about whether the “Marinara” variety is too fancy. My family prefers the “Meat-flavored” version. Meat-flavored. What does this even mean? Not a specific type of meat, mind you. And presumably not real meat at all. Ick.
And thus, food is becoming the medium for me to learn the lesson that I suppose all parents, all married people, all adults have to learn at some point in their lives. And I shall share it with you free of charge:
People are not always going to conform to your expectations of them, no matter how hard you try or how often you attempt to sneak cumin into your chicken dishes. And in order to retain your sanity, you have to let those expectations go.
We have reached some good compromises, my new family and I. Sometimes the beef stew or the lasagna or the quesadillas get consumed with minimal complaints/dissection/discussion. And the other day when John mentioned cooking (which in his case could more accurately be called “microwaving” or “dialing pizza place”), the older stepdaughter called him on it, much to my amusement.
“You don’t cook, Daddy. You don’t put things in pans and sizzle them like Carrie does.”
I plan to keep sizzling until we all figure each other out.
And in the meantime, PLEASE send kid-friendly recipes.
(RouxBarb/Editor’s Note: This first ever “Guest Post” brought to you by the recently wed and always inspiring Carrie C. , who was introduced to readers way back in the inaugural issue of RouxBarb.)