I don’t cook often because I don’t do it well, and nobody around here can be bothered to lie about it. If my mother tried a disappointing new recipe, my sisters and I would politely say it was good while my father would push his chair back from the table and exclaim, “Well, you don’t have to make that again.”
I used to think this was horribly rude and wondered in my little head why anyone would ever be anything other than grateful if somebody cooked for them.
Then I grew up and made things and realized you can’t hide the truth when you’re choking down every bite with a swig of wine or water.
When the boys were younger, they’d ask what I’d opened for dinner that night. Or what I’d melted cheese on. They thought this was hilarious, because we all know successful humour is rooted in truth. Bitter, sad truth.
One thing I can make from scratch is spaghetti sauce. By age 2, Ari vetoed anything store bought. Not so tough; even I could master that one. I did, for decades producing a reliable, if boring, standard.
Ari’s girlfriend, Taryn, is an excellent cook. Trust me; I spent a lot of time on this section of her interview before she moved in. I am happy to buy all the weird spices she wants and get out of her way. Often, I make my basic sauce and then she steps in to dump in the magic.
She was at work yesterday and not around to help. She works crazy hours in a restaurant and I don’t think it’s fair to ask her to cook when she gets home.
Gilly and I had been at Rozzy’s a few weeks back and the two of them had made sauce. It is not Sisters Cooking; it is Two Sisters and One Onlooker. I’m sneaky, though, and paid careful attention.
“Ew. What’s in this sauce?” asked Ari, spoon poised over the pot.
“It’s something Rozzy does. Pretty great, eh?”
“It tastes like gingerbread. It’s awful.”
I had put a little cinnamon in it. I couldn’t remember if it was coffee, cocoa or cinnamon, but I knew it was one of the c’s.
“How much did you put in, anyway?”
“Rozzy puts in just a little.”
“I didn’t ask how much Rozzy puts in. I asked how much you put in.”
I’ve been known to freelance in the measuring department. “Just a little, I promise.”
“Spaghetti sauce shouldn’t taste like Christmas. I don’t think I’m having dinner.” Just like that, he turned into his grandfather.
“I’ll fix it. Don’t worry.”
“I doubt you can fix this. Wait until Taryn gets home,” he said, leaving the kitchen.
I raced to the fridge and dumped a bunch of Frank’s hot sauce in the pot. Frank’s fixes everything.
Ari rambled back in 10 minutes later. He sniffed the pot.
“What’d you do to this?” I told him I’d done nothing. He tasted it. “Gross. You dumped Frank’s in here. Now it’s like gingerbread with Frank’s on it. Why do you think that fixes things?”
I have no answer for this, except when in doubt, I vote to incinerate tastebuds. If they can’t taste anything, they can’t know it’s bad.
I waited patiently for Taryn to get home, warning her dinner might not be exactly as advertised. She smiled, no doubt sure she could fix it.
She made rice and curry. I have enough spicy Christmas spaghetti to last for days.
I’ve decided it’s festive.