Sunday, August 17, 2008

Why I'm Not a Gourmet (or a Gourmand)

Jacob and I had a pleasant evening last night. Sometimes I think he stays glued to his DVD too much, but then again it's nice he's that comfortable here. Periodically, he'll get up, say "'Mon, Juju" and beckon for me to follow him somewhere. He really wants to ride the concrete lions in my neighbor's yard but they are right by the street, and Jacob is still too quick to dart and slow to listen to "No." Neither Jordan nor I will take him. As usual he asked, "Where Mama go?" and I replied, "To the ball game" and burst into song--"Take Me Out to the Ballgame." He stared at me and said, "No, Juju."
But this morning, that child who usually sleeps till 7:30, woke up singing at 6 a.m. I lay in bed and listened but he didn't seem in distress--maybe he'd go back to sleep. Then he turned quiet, and I thought maybe he'd gone back to sleep, so I peeked. Big mistake! There he was standing looking at me and holding out his arms to be picked up. The problem, it soon appeared, was that his pajamas were soaking wet. We were up by 6:30. By nine we had had breakfast, played and were both rubbing our eyes. I predict early naps all around.
While Jacob was playing with his doll house last night, I thumbed through the latest issue of Gourmet. For me, the day Bon Appetit arrives is always special, and I devote part of the evening to leafing through it the first of many times. But I haven't taken Gourmet in years. Perhaps it was the combination of Ruth Reichel as editor--I love her books--and a special bargain, but I subscribed recently. This issue is about Paris and frankly, it's over the top for me, even Reichel's essay. Lots of foie gras served in odd ways, like pots de creme, and a restaurant specializing in offal dishes. I grew up on kidneys, probably still like them but never see them in the market, and I'd sure have to eat alone that night; I regularly eat tongue sandwiches, to the dismay of some lunch companions, and I used to cook liver for the children. I loved it; they hated it. Again, I haven't had it in years, and now we know it's not as good for you as we were told as kids.
But carpaccio of pig's foot? Cow's udders? Salad of shredded pig ears, that was "a textbook on the nature of crispness"? No, thanks. Some of the recipes were a bit strange too. Nobody I know wants Celery Root and Potato Puree with Chervil, and there were those beef cheeks again, this time braised in red wine with orange zest. There were some recipes that intrigued me, especially Moucha Mousse with Sichuan Peppercorns, described as a variation of the Mexican culinary wedding of chocolate and chile. But, all in all, I think gourmets live in a different world than I do. One of the critics of my yet-to-be published cookbook labeled me a "faux gourmet," (mostly because I'm not above using canned soup in casseroles, whereas this critic wrote she always made her own white sauce for King Ranch Chicken--no, no, it's Campbell's Mushroom Soup). Anyway I wanted to call my cookbook The Faux Gourmet, but it will be Cooking My Way through Life with Kids and Books in the Kitchen.
I'm not feeling like a fancy cook at all today. I think I'll have that leftover chicken salad for lunch and then a long nap. Cocktail hour? I'll put some crab and chili sauce on a block of cream cheese and serve tiny toasts with it. Easy! I promise I'll make the chili sauce from scratch.

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