Tuesday, April 21, 2009

What's For Dinner?

News? In English?
News? In English?
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
As DrC hands me my evening cocktail, Mera asks, “What's for dinner?”

“Food,” I reply in a flat voice.

This is my standard answer to this question. I have not actually answered the question of “What's for dinner?” in over a decade. For some reason, the question itself strikes me as profoundly aggravating, incorporating as it does so many basic assumptions: Thing 1) Mommy is going to make dinner: Thing 2) Mommy knows what she is going to make for dinner; Thing 3) The beginning and end of the questioner's responsibility in making Things 1 and 2 take place is to remind Mommy that dinner is Pending.

I am not the only woman for whom this question enrages. I've met others. They admit it after a few glasses of wine. The sensation is similar to having ants crawl all over your body. “What's for dinner?” is a trick question whose purpose is to goad Mommy and whose underlying objective is to get her off her ass and into the galley.

My counterattack is to be singularly unhelpful. After a thousand times receiving the same precise reply, “Food” you would think those kids would give up. You would think my husband would give up. Unfortunately, he now has a very valid point. If they don't ask me what's for dinner, they won't know what to cook.

Okay, it's not like they are actually committing to cooking. “But I'm just saying,” DrC explains, “if we were going to help, we would have to know what to cook.”

Because provisioning and cooking on a boat is not like the real world. You can't get a craving at the last minute for steak and potatoes and pop over to the grocery to pick them up. Everything on the boat has a purpose and an assigned meal. As project manager and cattle herder extraordinaire, it's my job to figure out what the family is going to eat. The produce needs to be eaten in a certain order as it ripens, the meat has designated dishes, don't eat the cream cheese it's for the dinghy raft up, eat the bollo before they turn to stone... etc etc. Figuring all this out takes a lot of energy, but someone has to do it or we'll get halfway to Cape Corrientes, and we'll run out of bananas, tortillas and rum (not related problems).

So legitimately, if anyone is going to cook anything, they need to ask my permission and gain my cooperation first. I need to answer the question politely and helpfully. I need to elaborate on “food.” But my inner child whines, “I don't wanna!....” I do not want to be helpful. I'm about to sink my teeth into a glass of chilled red and I'd like to sit here and do absolutely nothing, think absolutely nothing for about an hour. Then I want my dinner to magically appear before me like a genie >poofed< from a bottle.

Still Cheesy Grins
Still Cheesy Grins
Originally uploaded by toastfloats.
I unbend enough to tell Mera, “Curry and rice.” I glance at my husband, daring him to get off his gorgeously shaped ass and cook dinner. After all, with three words I have released three potatoes, two onions, a squash, some carrots, the pork, and two cups of rice into the wilds of the galley, fair game for an enterprising chef. DrC picks up his guitar and returns the look guilelessly, “What?” He strums a few chords to check the tuning, “That sounds good.” Mera smilingly agrees as she returns to her cabin to read a book. Aeron and Jaime are nowhere in sight.

“What's for dinner?” The ants start crawling all down my arms making my teeth itch and my spine twitch. God, I hate that question.


Jim and Heather on Meerkat said...

I hear ya...
"Someone" (I won't say who, but you can probably figure it out because there is only one other person on my boat) asks me that all the time. I have the exact same feelings. Next time (probably in about 15 minutes from now) I will calmly answer "food".
Thanks Toast.

boatbaby said...

I dread 6pm every night. As the hour inches closer, I close my eyes and turn my back to the galley in total denial, hoping and wishing as hard as I can that gnomes will spring from the bilge and feed my family.

Not only do I hate to cook, I hate that it falls on me to provide this nourishment to my crew just because I birthed them (well one of them anyhow).

If those gnomes ever show, I will send them down Mexico way to help you out too.

Singing Land Cruiser said...

In my house, soon to be bus, I get sick and tired of deciding what to make. I am gluten intolerant, my husband can't eat anything spicy (not even too much Mrs. Dash), and my 11 year old is just plain picky. So every night is a challenge anyway. So when I ask my usually cooperative husband what he wants for dinner, he says, "food". You and he together would starve :)

Toast said...

*laughs* I had a sneaky sense this post would resonate with folks. Good to know you all are with me on this.

Singing Land Cruiser said...

My Dear Toast, I've got one word for this ; "FOOD" LOL
Be safe, Michael

Caspar said...

Well, seeing as you have the ingredients planned so you have them at the right time, maybe you should put up a menu - and include the chef.

If they know in advance what they have to cook and who is to blame if it isn't getting made, then it will be off your back.

(word verification - Ruff Sky :-)