Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Dinner at Chicken House
“Dinner,” replies my truculent eldest. Her posture screams, “Duh.”
I nod my head thoughtfully as though Jaime has revealed newly discovered deep profoundity. Inside I speculate that this exchange is her notion of revenge. For years my reply to the daily query, “What’s for dinner?” has been the terse and uninformative, “Food.” Turn about is fair play with the Conger crew.
Mera, however, is not quite so willing to play along. She peers into the bowl dubiously, “Are you sure?”
Jaime is put out, “Of course I’m sure. I made it.”
“Well there you go,” Aeron notes. “That’s the problem.”
True enough. Jaime does a lot of things incredibly well. She’s a mean dinghy racer, she can gut and clean fish, she knows how to solve for x and y and write a five paragraph essay. She can take the helm in bad weather, put on mascara without looking like raccoon (at least most of the time), and charm the socks off just about anyone any time anywhere. However, she cannot cook.
It might be more accurate to say that she cannot cook if anyone else is in the room. I once sat down to a surprisingly tasty meal of stuffed shells and spinach salad prepared by my eldest daughter. The secret ingredient, however, wasn’t herbs and spices or caramelized onions. It was the absence of sisters, parents, or good looking young men. Given a chance to focus, she can serve us up something edible.
I look across the table at Jaime’s friend Andrew, “This is your fault.” I point to the semi-raw chunks of broccoli and the pile of half burnt, half frozen dumplings. “You did this.”
Andrew throws up his hands, “I didn’t do anything! I told her…” His voice trails off at my glare. Andrew has spent enough time at Chicken House to know that that dog won’t hunt. He distracted Jaime, and now we’re all suffering the consequences.
DrC crunches down on a chunk of broccoli, “I think we need to take your phone away.” This is his generic answer to just about any problem with Jaime.
Jaime is immediately on the defensive, “It’s good. It’s just fine. It’s great!” She attempts to demonstrate this by manfully spearing a dumpling and sluicing it in what might be soy sauce and wasabi. She briskly bites it in half and chaws the glutinous mass. I admire that she neither winces nor do her eyes water. In a choked voice she gasps, “See. Great. Just eat it.”
Aeron shapes the pile of sodden rice on her plate into a gooey snow angel, “Maybe next time you’ll let her order pizza. She’s good with the phone.”