In my mind I have to do most things perfectly, but I am hardest on myself when it comes to cooking. I love to cook. I’ve said before that cooking is like a meditation for me at times. I enjoy taking a whole Friday afternoon or Sunday and cooking for the week so that we have good, healthy food readily available. I also love to have people over for dinner. I did this regularly when my husband was in law school and we would cram 20 people into our 3 bedroom apartment using any surface available for seating. Whenever I have people over I love to pull out all the stops and just create food magic. Even when things come out very well I am always criticizing my own food. It could be a little more done. It could be less done. I should have braised instead of roasted, or roasted instead of braised, used a higher temperature or a lower temperature.
Now even though I’m a food perfectionist, I’m always fearless when it comes to cooking. Having dinner guests and making something I’ve never made before? HA! No worries here. I shall take that challenge. Knowing what you now know about me and my crazy foodie habits consider the following recipe: 1 perfectionist food nerd, 3 new never-been tried before dishes, in-laws over for dinner for the first time after we got married. Combine! Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.
I was going to make a Bechemel Vegetable Lasagne using ‘no boil’ lasagne noodles. Basque stewed tomatoes. Spinach salad with warm bacon dressing. That Bechemel lasagne was a monster. Tons of prep for slicing the veggies uber thin, making the bechemel, only to have the noodles burn on the ends and not soften. At all. It was like dry wall between the veggie layers. The tomatoes? Watery tomato gruel. The salad? In my attemps to figure out what in the name of all things Escoffier ( you know, Auguste Escoffier, father of French cooking?) was going on with the lasagne, I let my bacon get too hot. In fact I burned it. Ever eaten burned bacon or better yet thought about using the fat rendered from it as a vinaigrette base? Mmm, mmm, retch! While all this is going on my husband is wondering why I am swearing up a storm. He is blissfully unaware that the whole meal is about to hit the fan. Then the worst thing that could happen happens. Mark’s parents show up. A half an hour early as I’ve learned they are known to do.
At this point I am very upset and on the verge of losing it. When I proceed to drop the whole bowl of salad on the floor the crack is audible as I hit my breaking point. I leave the salad on the floor, the tomatoes on the stove, and the lasagne mocks me from the counter as I walk into the back bedroom, proceed to lie face down on the floor like a 4 year old and bury my face in my hands and cry. My husband comes to find me. I will not get up from the floor. I will not come out of the bedroom. I am mortified. Mark’s parents are completely unaware of the situation. Between hitching sobs I tell Mark everything is ruined. I am embarrassed to face my in-laws who at this point I’m sure are thinking I am off my rocker and going to stick my head in the oven. We can’t order pizza as my mother in law has some severe food allergies. I have nothing for back up. I am completely and utterly defeated by this meal.
Eventually I slink out of the bedroom. My mother in law is cleaning up salad and my husband gets my coat and tells me we’re going out to eat. Mercifully he’s thrown the whole meal in the trash. Mark is trying not to laugh at me – not the cooking catastrophe, but my reaction. And in retrospect it’s pretty hilarious. Imagine me lying facedown in a dress and wearing an apron and crying into my hands? Over dinner? Perfectionism has it’s price in the ego department, especailly when things don’t go as planned. I’ve since tried to let go of those tendencies. And I’ve never made bechemel vegetable lasagne again.
See you in class and the studio!