October 12, 1998
Macaroni In Any Language


I am so sick of potato soup, I could scream.

It was Sunday afternoon before I finally got around to making the stuff, and I've got to admit that it was sorta fun, puttering around in a kitchen again. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy cooking. Even when I was feeding a persnickety ungrateful family of five on a nightly basis, for all those years, I always took pleasure in creating interesting meals out of next-to-nothing.

Daughters #1 and #2: "What the hell is THIS?"
Mom (beaming proudly): "I call it 'Italiano Casserole'."
Son #Only: "It looks like macaroni and cheese with tomatoes in it."
The Ex-Husband: "Hullo ... Donimo's?"


Actually, I'm selling myselves short here. I was a damn good little cook. They STILL talk about my chicken fried steak in TicTac. The obscenely unhealthy variety of chicken fried steak, mind you ... big slabs of round steak, which I used to beat hell out of with an old flashlight, then roll in egg and cracker crumbs and deep-fried until it finally stopped screaming (frankly, I've had relationships that gave up more quickly), and served with a giant heart-attack-inducing pile of mashed potatoes and gravy and the completely extraneous creamed corn that everyone used to dump under the sofa cushions when *Mom* wasn't looking ...

... but I digress.

When I ran away to Oregon last year, *Someone* did all the cooking for the two of us. I don't know why. I suspect it was more a territorial thing -- HIS kitchen/HIS pots and pans/HIS neatly alphabetized kitchen towel collection -- than a deliberate reversal of gender roles. (Or maybe he just prefers his arteries unclogged.)  But for whatever reason, I suddenly found myselves sitting out in the living room every night, watching Tom Brokaw, whilst *Someone* toiled in the kitchen preparing our dinner. And at first it was sorta nice. A barbecued chicken breast accompanied by a skewer of freshly-grilled vegetables. A perfectly toasted cheese sandwich and a mug of tomato soup, with a sprinkle of garden cilantro floating cutely on top. The occasional steak with a buttload of marinated Portabello mushrooms on the side.

But after awhile I started to miss the kitchen. I missed the cutting and the chopping and the measuring. I missed the smells, and the steam, and the stolen spoonsful of sauce (right out of the pan), and the way your mascara instantly melts when you open the oven door and stick your stoopid face directly into the heat source. I missed the whole process of cooking.


So of course one night I felt compelled to *surprise* him. He was pulling a late night shift at Starbucks, and I thought I would break all the rules and have dinner waiting for him when he got home. I was constricted to the meager contents of his freezer and cupboards, of course, but I thought I managed to throw everything together in admirable fashion. (AND I didn't melt anything.)

*Someone*: "What the hell is THIS?"
Me (beaming proudly): "I call it 'Tex-Mex Casserole'."
*Someone*
: "It looks like macaroni and cheese with tomatoes in it."

Still working on it ... tired ... bad bad baaaaad day ...


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