Bryan is a lucky guy. I come from a heritage of women who do not serve bad food. Aside from my occasional negligence (i.e. a nasty polenta-cheese-asparagus concoction from a few weeks back), I tend to take pride in my cooking.
I remember family dinners being very important growing up, with all of us pushing back the clock so that dad would be able to join us. This got harder as we got older. Luke had trumpet lessons, Thomas soccer, and extra credit for me. Perhaps I took for granted that the hardest part of making a meal was rarely actually the making of it; it was the planning and shopping. But all those years of savory homemade mashed potatoes, rolls from scratch, and green bean casseroles taught me a thing or two.
I have one such distinct memory that sets the bar for expectations in cuisine. My father was home on time, my brothers and I in our respective seats around the table. The bread was sliced in the basket in front of me, the salad to the left. Mom had been baking a casserole for over an hour and it was the last accessory to be added to the table. We indulged in light conversation while she put on her oven mitts and carefully removed the glass 9×13 from the oven. I watched her set it down on a trivet and reach for a clean fork. Ah, she’s going to test it. Mom rarely missed an opportunity to snack along the way.
Now, I can’t speak for the rest of her day, but my guess would be that it wasn’t the most pleasant. She took a hearty bite of this new recipe. Before we could bat our eyes, she had stuffed her hands back into the mitts, grabbed either side of the casserole dish, and flipped it upside down over the kitchen sink. My dad’s face moved in slow motion as he exclaimed, ‘Honey, what are you doing?! I would’ve eaten that!’ It’s true. He would have. But because it was ‘bad,’ he never would.
I’ve learned a bazillion things from my mother, one of them being: don’t serve bad food.