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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

We're just here for the food.

Wow, a month. Seems longer. I have no excuse except that I've been in a funk of sorts and felt it basically a repetitious pity party to post it here.

As Easter Sunday approaches I'm thinking a LOT about food. Well, okay, I think a lot about food anyway, which explains why the ladies at the local Lane Bryant know my first name.

Well, I started a methodical project of spring cleaning on Ash Wednesday which was SUPPOSED to be finished by now, thus enabling me a lovely, unstressed time in which to put together an Easter Dinner worthy of the foodiest of foodies. Ha. And may I say...HA!

The hubster got the man flu which took up considerable time. My younger son was bombarded with tests and paperwork that I become involved with as they a) contributed to his Bachelor of Arts Degree (which will be conferred the week before Memorial Day at 8 o'clock IN THE FREAKING MORNING!) and the rather bulky envelope full of references and expensive test scores that must be submitted to the College of Education for his advanced studies next year, as my son would like a credential to teach English. I'm so proud I could burst.

Well, anyway, the clutter remains, although not as much of it and what's under the clutter is immaculate. I pulled the stove out and scrubbed the floor, I've put up hooks for the mop and broom and my kitchen counters, while not quite as Zen like as they were when I started this project as still pretty damn clear. The bookcases were unloaded of ALL their contents and the wood washed with a mixture of vinegar, water, dish soap and olive oil.

But, it's not done. Therefore, my inspired menu was adjusted today, to allow two less days for cooking and two more days for cleaning. The rosemary crusted leg of lamb made way for a ham. It's easier, takes less watching and it's .88 a pound right now. Lamb is $5.49 a pound. You do the math.

I was thinking about this today though, as I was chasing down culinary lavender to use in my dessert, a somewhat elegant sounding dish that involves strawberries over a yogurt based custard drizzles with a honey lavender syrup. I found the recipe in a light, healthy cooking magazine and it just sounded wonderful. Not to mention the fact that it has no refined sugar which means my father will actually try some. I can make the syrup a couple of days in advance, as well as the custard stuff but I had to chase down the lavender. I found it at a place in Santa Monica (koffkoffPenzeyskoffkoff) but it takes four buses and as many hours to get there from here. Besides, this store is full of pretentious cooks. I know this because it was a pretentious cook who turned me on to it when I was, I realize now, a pretentious cook myself.

I managed to find the lavender at an equally pretentious store down the street from me. But it only required one bus and six bucks for the bottle. I'm good with that.

I'm glad, actually. No, not about the lavender. I'm glad that I discovered what buffoons foodies are (for the most part.) I'm glad I'm not making cumin and rosemary scented lamb and, instead, will be sitting around the table with my family eating a way too salty ham and drinking the wrong wine from the wrong winery while someone yells something like "NO...they pulled him over for a busted tail light. THAT'S when he told the cop it was a bag of oregano!"

I think of these foodies now and again, I've been thinking of them this week as I adjusted and pared down the menu. I'm thinking of their oh so proper chervil fresh from the Rich Bitch on the Beach Farmers Market and their oh so proper Holiday meals, complete with asparagus tongs and marrow spoons and their carefully selected guests culled from the local University. And their friends, who feel that living in the nouveau riche desert communities that have spring up just east of the Irwindale gravel pits but the houses are big and drafty and all made out of tickey tacky which gives us real class out here, who will be squeezing people who don't want to be there into a dining room that's filled with more crap than mine is and then bragging about their superb abilities as hot wife, good mother and the next Julia Child.

I was thinking about them tonight as I threw together some sort of pasta, meatball, sauce from a jar, cheese from a package thing in the electric skillet and shoving frozen garlic bread in the oven to go with so that we could all grab our plates and hit the living room in time for "Jeopardy!" No, it's not a pretty sight and no, we don't set the TV trays with place mats and crystal, in fact, we don't use the TV trays at all. But the food was tasty enough, the game lively and, guess what you horses asses with your Bristol Farms mentality? We ate together. My boys are in their twenties and yet, when every one's home by 7, we still eat together. We play killer "Jeopardy!" here, btw. There are 61 clues to a game and, between the four of us, we usually nail 59 of them.

For awhile there, I was a pretentious ass in the kitchen. Now...not so much. At least I hope not. Every now and then I still watch the Food channel though. And I think of Julia Child, chowing down on an In-N-Out burger (which, btw, she was known to do on occasion) and I realize that food is glue. Whether or not it brings us to the table, to a picnic bench or to a ledge at the Tommy's on Beverly it's not pretentious, it's not reverent and it's NOT a weapon to be held over the heads of the less skilled and unworthy.

I try and do my best. Sometimes my best is a bucket of chicken. Sometimes it's grilled ham and cheese and sometimes it's a crown roast and strawberries with lavender honey syrup. It's all good. I feel sorry for foodies. I'll take my fat ass and my jar of marinara sauce over their fresh fennel aspic with caraway seed infusion any day. Because you know what? If I served that crap to my kids there's no way in hell they would still be at my table, such as it is.

Listening to three people all shouting at the television set because some boob can't remember that The Kinks sang "Lola" while my son says "this is good, are these turkey meatballs?" has become my idea of a great dinner. I recommend it highly.

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