The Biscayne Times

Jul 09th
A Beefy Brood PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jenni Person, BT Contributor   
January 2020

From Greta Thunberg to burger babies?

Abigstock-Hereford-Herd-3108568pparently, no meal I make is something to look forward to.

My son told me that all of his friends were talking about their favorite meals that their moms make. Those meals, he explained, make them look forward to going home after school or practice. I asked for some examples.

“They have steak and potato night!” my kid exclaims.

So I ask my son what meals he would look forward to coming home to at the end of a day. “Why don’t you pay attention to what we order in restaurants?” suggests the one who brought up his friends’ moms’ home cooking (one of whom was a dad). So I point out that all he and his sister ever order in restaurants is steak.

“It’s because you don’t cook it at home,” the sister butts in forlornly. She’s the one who recently suggested pasta as a meal. I am pretty sure my son wouldn’t eat pasta as a meal because when I make pasta as a meal, it’s chockful of protein in some chunky sauce that he ditches to the side.

They won’t eat rotisserie chicken. The days of fish and vegetarian meals have gotten fewer and further apart as the kids have gotten older. They only want steak. As the rest of the country is getting greener from Meatless Mondays and the popularity of veganism and plant-based diets, my kids now want to abandon our veggie-heavy household culture for heaping amounts of the food that’s unhealthy for our bodies and the root of such environmental evil as pollution and heavy land and water consumption, as well as a global hunger crisis.

After 16 years of being a mom, I’ve grown accustomed to their food shifts and complaints. When they’re infants and toddlers, they are “supertasters,” a term introduced to this family by They Might Be Giants in the song “John Lee Supertaster” on their first kids’ album, No! “To a Supertaster, bitter fruits taste far more bitter, and sweets far more sweet,” the lead-in goes. This seems to be how babies and toddlers experience their first tastes of the world.

Then there are glorious years during which they’ll try anything and love it all, like avocadoes and chickpeas. Then around kindergarten they begin to get self-conscious about the perceived sliminess of said avocado, regardless of how delicious it may still be. Then a little later, apparently through their teens, there are foods that are adored one week and despised the next, right after you’ve just gone out and bought it in bulk because it solves the problem of making sure they get protein, or veggies, or convenient healthy snacks to have on hand before basketball practice. There are foods that are delicious at home, but never -- ever -- in a lunchbox.

Before I had kids, I was a serious cook. I went to cooking school. It was just a certificate course, but still it was based on the curriculum of the Culinary Institute of America. I even catered briefly. Very briefly, but still, I was paid to cook. And for many years, I was famous for dinner parties and for cooking for crowds. Apparently, people liked to eat the meals I made.

When my kids were little, my daughter shared a remark with me that her grandma had made. She told me that my mother-in-law told her that she was very lucky to have me for a mom because I was a great cook. Until that moment, I was pretty sure that there was nothing about me my mother-in-law would praise.

I have an expansive cookbook collection fostered by my mom and sister for three decades (we buy them for each other and end up with a lot of the same books). My cooking was full of diverse and unique flavors, and extremely varied in ingredients and cultural roots.

Although time these days limits my enjoyment of the kitchen, which I continue to imagine as my cockpit, I’m still one to make mac and cheese from scratch with imported cheeses, tri-color gefilte fish loaf, and vegetarian chopped liver for Passover, and quinoa fried rice with peanut chicken and broccoli or vegetable curry over riced cauliflower. The last thing it occurred to me to make has always been steak and potatoes.

But one night I was so over the complaints and exhausted from being concerned about everyone’s nutrition to no avail that I threw in the towel. I went out and bought lots and lots of beef. I came home and broiled steaks for dinner. I made goulash for the week. This week there’s brisket for lunch and dinner. I decided that I was going to drown this family in beef until they get so sick of it, they never want it again. I’ll let you know how it goes.


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