Saturday, December 17, 2011

Kitchen Nightmares.

I am supposed to be sleeping between 12 hour midnight shifts.  When our kids were small Bill used to dread my weekends to work, trying to keep a couple rowdy kids corralled so I could snag five hours of sleep before doing it again.  By the third day in a row I was cranky and it seemed like I woke up for anything and everything, the simple reason being that I was missing out on my family's weekend and wanted to be a part of it, tired or not.

Today it's a little different.  I woke up to four 18 year old's in my basement that were so quiet I had no clue they were there. In her room, Casey was singing with her headphones on at a volume I couldn't hear. Bill has done well.  After all these years, the kids respect when I sleep.  A fan in the bedroom and a shot of Sambuca before bed doesn't hurt, either.

Today I woke up in the middle of the day for a wonderful reason.  I woke up because my house smelled amazing. It smelled like spices and garlic and BACON and chicken stock.  It wasn't a dream, and it wasn't a lame Folger's commercial.  It meant Bill was cooking.

When we married, I don't recall a summit meeting about division of chores.  I can't remember laying claim to certain responsibilities. I simply remember that by default, cooking fell to Bill.  He was just plain better at it.  Unlike me, Bill knew his spices, the difference between a sauté pan and a pot, and the proper knife to use.  Bill would never make a spaghetti sauce containing not one but two bulbs of garlic in it. (Clove. Bulb. Apparently there is a difference. But he ate it like a trooper and together we learned that garlic has the ability to ooze from your pores and permeate pretty much everything around you for days and days).  Call it a rookie mistake. Call it a dating tragedy.  Call it one if Bill's favorite "Do you know what she did?" stories.

I clean the house, or at least 90% of it. When I paint rooms, Bill cuts in, which I hate doing.  I enjoy the outdoors, so I mow the lawn by choice.  I am fussy about how things look, and everyone suffers because of it. I maintain the pool, we both do laundry.  There are no "boy jobs" and "girl jobs" around here.  I have been cooking more often, thanks to my friend Laurie's blog and the magical tug of the of Food Network; where I can listen to southern accents all day and the Barefoot Contessa comforts me with her voice.  I do OK.  But the bottom line is Bill is the family cook.

Sometimes I get surly about the house being a mess, the laundry piling up, the grime on the kitchen floor.  Then I hear one of my friends complaining about making dinner and I check myself.  I believe the responsibility of putting a complete dinner on the table seven days a week would throw me into a massive panic attack.  The planning, the timing, the pressure? No thanks, I will tackle the toilet bowl ring every, single, time.

When I am supposed to make dinner, I look in the fridge and I see...nothing.  I shut the fridge. I ponder.  I open it again.  I look a little harder.  I see...nothing.  I proclaim to Bill:  "There's nothing to eat in there".

Bill moves me aside.  Bill opens the fridge.  Bill rummages.  Bill walks across the kitchen with an armload of the nothing I found and in 20 minutes, there is food.  Hot, delicious, healthy food made out of nothing.  It's a festivus miracle, and I cannot duplicate it, no matter how hard I try. He makes it look easy, chopping, dicing, flipping food around in the well oiled pan.  He's like a running back, cutting this way and that, moving fluidly between the fridge, the stove, the table.  It's like watching the ballet of sous chefs, if there was such a thing.

Conversely, my kitchen routine consists of the following:
  • Look at recipe.
  • Begin to assemble ingredients on counter.
  • Walk back to computer to look at recipe.
  • Get out pans that I am allowed to use (the shitty ones I ruined, not the ones Bill uses).
  • Walk back to the computer, cursing my aging brain that can't hold a thought.
  • Move mouth as I read to make words stick better.
  • Start cooking.
  • Drop shit.
  • Stomp back to computer because I forgot.  Again.
  • Splatter stuff on my shirt.
  • Swear.
  • Turn computer toward kitchen.  Realize I am blind.
  • Swear.
  • Swear.
  • Look imploringly at my beloved.
  • Step aside to let Bill salvage my mess.
  • Apologize profusely for my incompetence.
Please don't judge.  I work hard to clean up after the Pig People I made.  I make sure the vacuum tracks all go the same way. My lawn rocks.  My countertops sparkle.  But at the end of the day, when I am eating  pea soup with chorizo, (yes, I had to ask him what chorizo was) I am grateful that in addition to a homemade, balanced meal, I also have helped create a balanced marriage.

The other day, I was watching The French Chef.  Even though I am a sub par cook, I like to watch the masters, and Julia Child is my favorite.  At one point, she looked directly into my eyes and spoke to me.  I just know it was me she wanted to get through to, because what she said was this:

      “The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken.  Bon appétit. ”  

I whooped as I headed to the wine rack to make dinner.

Bon appétit, indeed.



Jules said...

One of my great childhood memories is watching Julia Child with my mom, who was an amazing cook.

Love the non division of chores-sounds like it works out well. I wish Leo would cook more-I get tired of it. Plus now that his dad is here for the next 6 &%$# months, I have to fix something every night.

I also remember trying to sleep in the daytime while kids are being loudly shushed all day long. Don't know how you keep it up, it sucked my soul out. I had to go on days or go insane. I can't do 3 hours of sleep. I also worked more Christmas days than I care to remember!

Merry Christmas my friend, it's almost OVER!

Cori said...

I love reading your blog. When you talk about you and Bill I find many similarities in our relationships. Here I am the better cook but I think it is because Kevin only does it when he wants and when he does it is wonderful. I struggle. I made him a childhood favorite yesterday, a chocolate mayonnaise cake. I've never made a cake from scratch before. I did really well but I had to go back and forth. Got all the ingredients out then read the recipe and tried not to mess it up. I did manage to flip a cup full of flour on the floor. That shit is a bitch to clean!

Kevin is on the grave shift now and I hate it. It is so hard to keep the kids quiet in this small house with paper walls. I want to wash the sheets but he sleeps during the day and I sleep at night. Plus the washer is loud. Oh well as my MIL said, This to shall pass. I'm so damn glad Christmas is over!

tc said...

Kim - I was laughing out loud because I also have worn a path between the computer recipe and my kitchen counter because I CAN't REMEMBER more than one item at a time!!! Thanks for sharing!