Sunday, November 16, 2008

Culinary Nurturing

Ahhh, November in Vermont, so much to enjoy. An early winter dusting coats the mountains like sugar. The whir of freshly balanced snow tires accompanies every drive. The crisp scent of wood smoke hangs in the air. And lest we forget, the impending bacchanalia of poultry-based family feasts: Thanksgiving. This year we are having our third Thanksgiving at home, just the three of us. It was originally our son Carlos’ idea, and though part of it is that we are a tight little trio of a family, it is also that we will be guaranteed the finest feast imaginable (not to mention leftovers to enjoy). You see, my husband is a wonderful cook. I am the envy of my friends as he does all the cooking, and takes great joy in nurturing us with his elaborate but classic meals. It is from the reaction of my friends that I know this is not a common trait amongst husbands, stereotypes aside. Though I am grateful for this as it speaks to the quality of our partnership—each labor divided by our gifts not our gender—the most wonderful part is the influence it is having on our son, Carlos. It all started three years ago…

That Saturday afternoon I came home from a trip to Burlington, put down my things and went to find the guys to kiss them hello. I walked in to the living room and found them sitting on the couch, side-by-side, eating chips and watching the food network. They were arguing about which show a certain recipe for braised pork tenderloin had been on.

“It was on the bobble-head show last week!” my son said (they have their own names for the individual shows—it seems they think a particular female chef’s head is too big for her body).

“No, it was the Southern woman who puts her fingers in the food!” was my husband’s retort.

Now, it was confusing enough that I felt I had stepped in to an alternate universe—there was usually cartoons or sports on at that time of day—but I also gleaned from the conversation that there was a history of cooking show watching between them.

The following week Carlos asked me to take him to the grocery store. “I want to make you guys lunch” he announced. After a long stint at the Price Chopper, we returned home and he promptly threw us out of the kitchen. When he called us in a half an hour later, he set before us a meal of tortellini en brodo, with baked croquettes made from fresh parmesan cheese and spices which you floated on top of the soup. My husband and I just stared at each other across the table. As I relished the delicious meal I asked Carlos, “Where did you learn this?” To which he replied, “On a cooking show I watched at Donna’s.” It seems he was also watching the shows at his caregivers in the afternoon.

Now those of you who know have read my earlier columns already know that Carlos is an athletic, linebacker-sized guy who—as most boys his age are—is very concerned about his reputation as a masculine manly man. Luckily, however, he has managed to escape the stereotypical perception of the kitchen being a woman’s domain and is heading towards a possible career as a chef (or at least a very happy future spouse). Yes, I am concerned about the amount of time they spend watching those damn shows—they really are addictive, my friend Lisa calls them “food porn”—but it seems I am to reap the benefits as well.

So as we approach this season of giving thanks, I find myself grateful that my son has inherited his father’s joy in the nurturing of family and friends. Perhaps some of you enjoy cooking and see it as a way to show your love and affection to those you care about too. But if you are gastronomically-challenged but fortunate enough, as I am, to have a culinary-nurturer hosting your Thanksgiving celebration, you can certainly return the favor by enjoying their gifts and praising them eloquently in between mouthfuls. That is, in fact, a form of nurturing, is it not? As for me, I’m sure as always, this third Thanksgiving at home will be one to remember as it will be lovingly prepared by my two chefs, and it will give me much to be thankful for.

I am also thankful for you, gentle La Bloga readers, and may you all be nurtured this holiday season.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sons like that are keepers, Ann.
I'm lucky to have one who cooks, tho he may not be at the chef-level yours is. Hated it when he moved out of the house; now his girlfriend is the one who benefits from those talents.

For dads out there who squirm at the idea of encouraging boys into traditionally female activities:
When mine was in high school, we sent him off for a summer in N.M. to work in my cousin's custom clothing business. When he came back, I became proud owner of 3 of the coolest Southwestern dress shirts, for which I was sometimes offered money for.

A lot because of his mother's influence, he eventually even got his own sewing machine. Each year he's made his own Halloween costumes that are hot, innovative, and enviable. (You shoulda seen the Marvel Wolverine or Edward Scissorhands!)

We should be grateful that some of the next generation has dumped much of the tracking we were raised under. It not only benefits us when we get to eat something delightful prepared by them, it gave them more opportunities for creativity than we had.
RudyG

msedano said...

some gente live to eat, some eat to live. i live to cook. and eat. good for carlos. when he goes off to college and gets an apartment of his own, freed from dorm food, he'll eat well and grow stronger. all his friends will tell him they want to eat in the kitchen, too, even when company comes. what puro joy, to feed your friends.
mvs

Bonnie said...

Good morning Ann...my son, who turns 28 today, was cooking at an early age as well. At sixteen, he made lamb chops with a demi glaze. Twelve years later, he's still impressing me with his culinary skills. His wife was a confirmed vegetarian when they got married; my son an equally confirmed carnivore. Now a year and a half later, she has discovered the joys of bacon, steak, coq au vin etc. Personally, I'm surprised it took him that long to win her over. I love your blog!!! And I miss seeing you!!!!

Bonnie said...

Good morning Ann...my son, who turns 28 today, was cooking at an early age as well. At sixteen, he made lamb chops with a demi glaze. Twelve years later, he's still impressing me with his culinary skills. His wife was a confirmed vegetarian when they got married; my son an equally confirmed carnivore. Now a year and a half later, she has discovered the joys of bacon, steak, coq au vin etc. Personally, I'm surprised it took him that long to win her over. I love your blog! And I miss seeing you!!!!