Thursday, May 20, 2010

The $500 Omlette

My son has occasionally expressed some interest in learning how to cook. He can make banana bread and can actually follow a recipe if he sets his mind to it. As Julia Child might say, though, he lacks the power of his own conviction that he can do it, let alone do it well.

I think that all men should know their way around the kitchen. My first husband acknowledged that he could burn water and his description about his own mother's cooking was far less than admiring: "when the kid I was tutoring invited me to stay for a dinner of leftovers, and I tasted seconds that were far better than firsts at home, I realized how bad a cook my mother was." I am far less kind about describing the late Frances' skills in the kitchen. Some cooking skill and a genuine interest in food were traits I looked for in a second spouse. While Len's interest in or tolerance for some kinds of cuisine are far less adventurous than mine, he can and does cook. His soul mate may very well be Rachael Ray, but he's content to settle for her cookbooks.

About two years ago, I sent Michael off to Sur La Table with my husband to take a knife skills class. He seemed to enjoy it. If French cooking is about perfection rather than yield, he has the perfect mindset to work in the kitchen. OCD actually is good for some things. When I broke my arm early this year, I knew I could rely on Michael to chop and slice for me and produce results far better than my own "good enough for government work" knife skills.

I noticed that Sur La Table was planning a three-part, basic kitchen skills class in January or February, which, if they had been offered in the evening or on weekends, I would have taken. Our friend Sandy had expressed an interest in taking such a class, so I decided that, if Sandy did it he was willing to take Michael with him, I'd pay for Michael to go. They had a blast and the class so enjoyed it, that they convinced the chef to plan another three-part series building on the first one. Two months later, there was a third, at an expenditure of almost $500 on my part.

Now, getting Michael to do anything more with his new skills other than chopping has been a chore. There's always some excuse. But one day I came home from work and my husband told me Michael had been working on his omelet skills. So I announced that what I expected for Mother's Day this year was breakfast in bed. Made by my son.

His excuse that he didn't have the right ingredients (the recipe he got in class was for an omelet with arugula and feta cheese) was answered with a trip to Trader Joe's to pick up some of each. He said he was going to practice, but somehow never got around to it. On Mother's Day morning, I waited in bed as long as I could stand while Len and Michael went to the store for other things and then puttered around the kitchen. Eventually, I just got dressed and joined them in the kitchen.

Michael's first attempt ended with egg on the floor, rather like the famous moment on Julia Child's program. But the second attempt worked quite well and looked and tasted just fine.
Now, if I can just get him to make some stock, some sauces, and the creme brulee I know he learned how to make, that $500 will amortize quite nicely.

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