Monday, October 4, 2010

Food for thought

"Hey, Dad, what's for dinner?"

Such a seemingly innocuous question, yet so loaded.

My family spends an inordinate amount of time thinking, talking, complaining and ruminating about meals. If my kids aren't eating, they're discussing what and when they'll be eating next.

Part of it can be rationalized, as my fifteen-year-old daughter burns through calories like an Escalade limo devours fossil fuel. Things have progressed to the point where I'm considering the purchase of a soy bean farm/black angus ranch in Ritzville, Washington to meet her dietary requirements.

Which brings us back to the original inquiry: What's for dinner? As we parents are fully aware, the answer is black or white, right or wrong. Kids judge our dinner decisions like George W. Bush assessed the world's nations in the "war on terrah"—either you're with us or you're against us. And since school has started, our schedules have filled up considerably, leaving little room for contemplation upon returning home after a busy day.

My wife, the human embodiment of organization and efficiency, has begun planning the week's menu on Sundays. She scours the cookbooks for quick, healthy dinners—meals which don't include titles like "fish sticks," "tater tots," "hot pockets," or "toaster strudel." After she's found five recipes which seem palatable (on paper) to all family members, she jots down the ingredients and I grocery shop.

We don't consult with our children; we know them well enough already, and the less they know about meal preparations, the better. We go to great lengths to omit those two Voldemort-like words which incite fear and revulsion in our offspring—crock pot. Kids, we're not having soupy red crock pot, where having chili. That's not floating brown crock pot, it's delicious beef stroganoff.

After they discover that their supper is originating from this forbidden appliance, it's like telling them we brought home some great movies. It's just that they happen to be VHS tapes from the public library. My ten-year-old recently stated that the only acceptable crock pot dinner would be lobster.

Nothing like eating a lobster that's been slow-cooked in cream of mushroom soup all day. Talk about animal cruelty.

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