Don’t hate me ladies, but I have the best deal in town. My son Paul loves to cook. And he’s good at it. I, on the other hand, don’t love cooking. In the old days I cursed the sight of the stove each night. Now I sometimes go a week without touching it, thanks to my boy. But alas, everything comes at a price. Here are four wonderful things about Paul cooking and one not-so-wonderful thing…
He cooks for the holidays – I used to stumble bleary-eyed into the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning to start the stuffing. I’d put on the Macy’s Day Parade and I’ll admit, the rousing horns and snare drums did give a lift. But by the time the bird had gone in the oven – cleaned, stuffed, and rubbed with butter – I had had it. Then I remembered seven courses remained. Kill me now.
But last year a strange thing happened. I arrived in the kitchen to the aroma of diced onions and celery sautéed in butter. Paul had already made the stuffing. The bird was out, cleaned, and ready to go. I wanted to drop to the floor in praise. All my life’s wishes had been granted. “Happy Thanksgiving,” Paul said, casually, having no idea of the life-altering event he had just brought on.
He cooks for company – Like the iconic scene in “2001: A Space Odyssey” when the apes first discover bones as tools, I made a momentous discovery of my own. Like many of these events, it happened by accident. Paul knew we were having company. “What are you making?” he asked. “Probably beef, mashed potatoes, and vegetables,” I said, listing my usual basic fare.
Quicker than you can say, pinch me, I’m dreaming, Paul asked, “Can I do it?” His eyes lit up. So did mine. Not only that but he offered to whip up a creamy, garlicky shrimp dish he designed himself.
That night our guests, my husband Randy, and I spent a large part of the evening sitting at the kitchen island watching my “private chef” (sounds so classy) preparing a delicious dinner. A new tool had been brought into the Stone house. A new way of entertaining had begun. (Cue the “2001” theme music).
He cooks Sunday dinner – This is where stuff gets really cool… and sometimes unpredictable. Every week Paul has a meal he’s inspired to try. A few weeks back it was braised short ribs. He worked all afternoon and they were fall-off-the-bone delicious. A few weeks before that, it was minestrone soup with homemade garlic bread.
I shouldn’t be surprised. Paul watches cooking videos like most guys watch football. He rarely uses a recipe and instead goes by whatever he feels inspired to make.
This can lead to, well… eclectic meals like last Sunday when we had a spread of Tuna Tartare, individual mini-calzones, and French toast topped with fruit compote. Okay, I doubt it would be featured on one plate at Spago, but the strange thing? It all came together and was delicious.
He cooks “just because” — Sometimes Paul makes standard fare like mac and cheese or hamburgers. He’ll have music playing while he dices and chops — everything from Billie Holiday to punk rock (sometimes too loud and I have to yell at him).
Sometimes he starts at 2:00 p.m. for a 6:00 p.m. meal. I should’ve seen the clues when he was a child. The little boy who loved to touch and smell and taste everything (and I mean everything, sometimes to my horror) would become a budding chef.
Now here’s the hard part…
Paul talks about getting his own place. He works hard in a commercial kitchen, arriving most mornings by 7:00 a.m. He puts almost everything he earns in the bank.
And I know it’s for the best and how life should be (*sniff*) that my youngest boy will move on. I can’t keep Paul to myself forever.
So, what will I do? First, I’ll need a refresher course on how to turn on the oven. Then I’ll look around my kitchen and think how lucky I’ve been. I’ll miss the aroma of homemade meatloaf, the clanging of pots and pans, and even meals involving crazy combinations. I’ll miss the gift of my son’s food.
Still, I’m no fool. I’ll be luring Paul back for holidays, company meals, and even those wonderful “just because” dinners.
I knew a good deal when I had it.
Do you have a family member who loves to cook? Comments are always welcome, and if you like, please share.
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