Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Curse of Bland Appetites

Have I mentioned that I hate cooking? I'm not very good at it, either (a nice confluence, I suppose, and if I were more introspective I’d examine the direction of causality here).

For starters, there's my technical limitations. I can whip up basic stuff, but any recipe that requires multiple steps and juggling of multiple cooking temperatures and times exceeds my skill set. A quote from a local newspaper columnist made me laugh because it could easily describe me: "You don't cook. You heat things up!" For Jeff and me, a typical dinner is baked chicken breast, rice, and steamed broccoli. Yawn, I know. And of those three items, I eat the chicken, plus a raw carrot.

Which brings me to another stumbling block on the path toward culinary sophistication: my impressively limited palate. I know I've complained about Sean's pickiness, and I really can't put myself in the same class as someone whose only acceptable dinner options currently are 1) oatmeal, 2) noodles, and 3) a baked potato. That said, I have always been a picky eater: I don't like any fruit except apples, and I eat about three vegetables. It's hard to find diverse recipes for the types of food that I like. Oddly enough, though, I love to read about food: cookbooks, restaurant reviews, recipes---even if they discuss foods I dislike, I enjoy reading them (except sushi; I just can't get behind that at all.)

Point the third: Jeff is picky, too. He definitely likes a broader array of food than I do, but he also prefers that his food be prepared simply: no sauces, no cheese, as little co-mingling of foods as possible (stir-fry is okay; stew is not). He's about as far away as you can get from being a food snob (for someone like me, that's not a bad thing at all!). His basic philosophy toward food is utilitarian: he feels that it should involve as little effort as possible to prepare. This goes a long way toward explaining why we can get away with eating cereal and sandwiches for dinner more nights than I care to admit.

I've felt a slight spark in the cooking department because Allison has such a hearty appetite. For her, I get to fiddle about with some kid-friendly recipes that Sean would never deign to consider. Even Allison, though, is prone to fickleness. She sometimes accepts what I prepare and other times refuses it. If the rejected food is something I've spent some time cooking, I am supremely irritated.

Here's my long-term goal: When the kids are older and Sean's eating habits have improved (I am optimistic that they will, darn it!), I am going to cook a reasonably nutritious dinner for all four of us four nights a week. There. I've committed it to writing.