by C. Jeanette Tyson
Iíve been really good this year, I swear.
Iíve made approximately 730 waffles and 632
pancakes from a wholesome multi-grain mix, served them slathered in real
maple syrup, and have just about lost the five pounds I put on from eating
what the kids left behind.
I have taken every out-of-town guest to Gueroís
and ZTejas. This in no way reflects on my own cooking; itís simply a
matter of civic pride.
I introduced my three-year-old children to frog
legs. They had no opinion as to whether they tasted like chicken but the
phrase ďFrog legs for breakfast!Ē induced peals of laughter for weeks.
And that was just in me.
have learned to take my own meals on the plane and not be embarrassed about
it, as they do in many third world countries.
Everything I made from recipes in Bon Appetit
turned out great. Really, both dishes were quite tasty.
On principal, I refrained from buying Martha
Stewart's Living though I believe my Easter decorations suffered from it.
Which reminds me: I made the twins twin birthday
cakes again this year; Jay-Jay the Jet Plane and his sidekick Gracie. They
werenít the hit Bert and Ernie were. To be honest, Iím not sure how long
I can keep this up. I see myself thirty years from now, cigarette dangling
out the side of my mouth, dropping ash into my drink, trying to figure out
how to make Fred and Ginger out of a box of Duncan Hines. Or Donnie and
Marie. Or would that be Arnold and Marie? So please, please give me a lot of
Speaking of cake, I told a friend my favorite
flavor of ice cream was vanilla. For several days afterward I worried what
this said about me. Bland and unimaginative? Simple and classic? Strong
grounding for things more flighty and fabulous? I know what youíre
thinking. And no, I donít usually have that much time on my hands.
Goodness and light stream through my fridge now,
Santa. Gone are the three bottles of A-1 that lent taste to
bachelorís-choice cuts of cheap meat. Gone are the pre-sliced cheese,
pre-packed salad, caffeine-free, sugar-free cola. It wasnít real food so I donít miss it. It wasnít even my food.
The divorce should be final soon. Very soon. Not soon enough.
Iíve been fairly disciplined on the calorie
front: even though eggnog showed up on the shelves before Halloween, itís
December and Iíve not yet bought any. When I do succumb, I promise to get
the real thing this year, not soy.
After a first, most atmospherically-charged date
there, Iíve decided I can never go to Fonda San Miquel again; that the
memory should be enshrined. However,
I reserve the right to change my mind on that.
I think you can see, Santa, that from a culinary
perspective Iíve been pretty good. Maybe not Emeril good or Nigella good,
but nice in my own hectic way.
And really, were the naughty things so naughty?
Yes, Iíve shown up to many dinner parties this year with spinach filo
from the freezer section at Central Market. Yes, the cat has found a home in
the basket on the dining table and Iíve let it. The six-burner Viking has
been used to heat more cans of soup than Iíd like to admit. Whole Foods
has cooked most of the chickens on their rotisserie and Iíve not turned
one carcass into stock. Guilty as charged with the bribery of my children
with marshmallows. (Only once!)
But itís that time of year, Santa.
Just a couple of weeks ago the biblical rains came.
I would drive across Redbud to see what they were doing with the dam. One
day it would be open, gushing, flooding, overwhelming. Another day shut, all
held back. Itís that time of year.
We look back over a thousand and ninety-five meals
to congratulate ourselves on the opportunities taken and ponder the ones
lost. Good and bad, authentic and fabricated, shared and suffered,
satisfying and decidedly not.
At least thatís what it was like around my table.
Címon Santa, stuff my stocking. You know I
deserve it. We all do.
C. Jeanette Tyson is a freelance writer, lover of eggnog and hot
chocolate with peppermint, and of Maddy and Jackson, age four.