Thursday, January 8, 2009

What's for Dinner???

Of all the things that I have had difficulty with in the transition from Manager to Mom (and please, for all the Mom's out there who will say - - but I AM also a manager - - tuck away your righteous indignation - - I know that you are also a manager, as well as a number of other titles. But, for the purposes of this particular missive - - assume "Manager" is the working-out-of-the-house-title. Kay??), the most troubling is the burdensome, arduous and irritating task of deciding what to have for dinner. I won't even get in to the whole finding time to actually shop and cook said meal. That part is just the sickly sugary icing on the proverbial pain-in-the-ass cake of "what are we eating tonight?".

In the olden days, before I had a wife that took care of things like dinner (which occurred sometime in 2000 when we moved to Japan, where having a Philippine wife was considered commonplace and, well, necessary and accepted), I used to cook dinner. I did this the whole time Shannon was growing up and I was working at the same time. So, assuming that Shannon was born in 1980 - I cooked and planned dinners for 20 damn years before I took a 6 year break when I didn't really cook at all. That's 20 years of making the Dinner Decision. I know I made stuff. I know I put stuff on plates. I know I often pondered over the "three things" on a plate dilemma - - you know: Meat, Starch, Veggie. I know this because Shannon did not starve to death nor become a victim of scurvy or rickets. She is alive and well, has all her teeth, and I am assuming she is now planning her own dinners.

So, what happened in the six years when my wife planned dinner? Two things. First, I came to realize that when your husband/significant other/kids respond "I don't care" to the question of "What do you want for dinner?", they are not just bullshitting you. They really don't care. I know that I didn't. All I cared about was that when I came home from work, there was stuff to eat. It was hot, it was usually some Philippine speciality, and I honestly was grateful to have it there. It is likely that I still don't care what is for dinner and this may be contributing to the overarching issue. Second, it is glaringly evident that the part of my brain that houses both ideas for dinner and the expertise to execute the preparation of dinners was somehow adversely affected over that 6 year period. Basically, that part of my cerebellum disintegrated or atrophied or some such medical problem.

Lest you think that I am not resourceful - -I read Real Simple, I know how to google, I have (or to be clear George has) dozens of cookbooks. In fact, George has invested in a couple of new cookbooks since I have taken over the main responsibility of food planning and preparation. These are "easy" cookbooks with titles like "How to Cook Everything Well" or "A Trillion Easy Recipes That Require No Real Skill". The access to resources is not the issue.

The problem is that I have some kind of a mind-stall affliction going on when it comes to daily application of deciding on meals.
It is as if when the thought first comes in to my head, when the slightest hint of the internal inquiry of "what I am going to make for dinner?" pops in to my mind, the part of my brain that houses and stores delicious epicurean ideas and memories of things that I have made in the past becomes frozen. Honestly. A loud humming noise takes up all consciousness and my ears starting ringing.

There are two exceptions to this. Weirdly, the things that come to mind are 1) Chili and Cornbread, and 2) Various shapes of pasta with red sauce. And while these are both delicious choices, it wouldn't be cool or nutritiously balanced if I served these every night.

I have tried to coerce my family in to helping with my affliction. I figured that since there are 4 of us, and Friday is pizza night, I would utilize my prior "Managerial Skills" and delegate this decision. Each family member in the house would be responsible for suggesting something for dinner for one night a week. This worked for about 2 weeks. All Henry wanted was Sushi - not applicable unless his night included heading down to Sushi-Mania. George the Younger wanted Pasta with red Sauce (see above paragraph. I KNOW this one) and George the Elder didn't really want to play the game. Something about his job was to work and my job was to... you know the rest.

I am now thinking of creating a "Things for Dinner" jar. Said jar would contain all the recipes that I know, plus a few Wild Cards that pointed me to the recent issues of Sauveur and would say something like - - Try Something New and Complicated You Lazy Woman This Is Your Job. I envision reaching in to said jar on days when I am experiencing the Brain-Stall. This would be most days. I am skeptical that this will solve the problem. What if the affliction is so severe that even trying to write the things I know on little slips of paper will invoke the stall?

Whatever. Right now, I need to run and start the water for our pasta. I spiced things up a bit and pan fried some sausage to add to the red sauce. Go me. (Note: I am a big fat liar. I did plan for the sausage. I even bought it at the store. When I got home, George the Elder was already here. He fried up the sausage. Now we all know who really cooks around here. His job is to work AND cook.)

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