As chef Dada (my wife doesn't cook much), my boys' Saturday meals are all about experimentation, which basically equates to me making about ten things until I find something they'll actually eat. I'm less flexible during the week (typically only two entrees if I'm cooking), but on Saturdays, I don't mind shuttling out multiple small plates of ethnic brio, as this keeps my cooking chops fresh and springy, AND works to pave the road to future palates. This is my theory, anyway. For all I know, my boys will end up making chili cheese burgers at Tommy's Atomic Burger, where I'll be the first in line. So...
Saturday's breakfast involved (at my oldest boy's request) breakfast burritos, roasted and buttered wheat-spelt-barbed-wire flour tortillas filled with: a base of warm refried beans laced with crumbled bacon; a layer of slow-cooked scrambled eggs dotted with potatoes o'brien; shredded cheddar and scallions and cilantro... the gestalt rolled not-too-thickly and cut on the bias. Sides: strawberries and blueberries. Result? Lots of staring. They wouldn't even TRY it, the little boogers. My oldest (with his odd, occasional Bavarian accent) finally said: "No Dada. Dis sucks." Why did I have kids again? I reminded him that that isn't a nice thing to say and downshifted their burritos to eggs and tortillas... same result: no fast broken. My wife then offers the young princes Trader Joe's fruit bars and yogurt as a last resort. Result: no actual food is eaten. Fine. Be Breatharians.
Afterward, after powerful salt water hoses flush the crime scene, my lovely wife takes the boys to the park, while I jaunt off to Whole Paycheck with our Swedish au pair, Inge. At the store, I see what looks good and begin conjuring lunch and dinner menus for the next few days. While hip-deep in the overpriced produce tuilleries, a matronly woman takes in my tie-dye shirt and shorts and sandals and asks me where the kiwis are. "I believe they're right behind you, ma'am, but they're horribly overpriced." Her eyebrows rise and she wonders aloud that the prices must indeed be high if the employees are commenting on them. I let her know that I don't work for Whole Foods, and she laughs, saying, "Oh! I thought you were the manager! You just looked so... in charge!" In a tie-dye shirt? "And you and your wife are so cute together!" Inge giggles and I let her know that she's our au pair. "So nice of her to do double duty!" she trills and Inge giggles again. While I'm trying to figure out what just what THAT means, she says, "Oh! You could be brother and sister!" Afterward, I'm forced to quell Inge's fears that she looks old (she's 20), while I windowshop the fish case -- though *I* am now suddenly feeling positively young and springy (esp. since I shaved off my beard), but I'm also suffering a tournado of relative mock-wealth, as I have yet to be laid-off.
Since I have no vices to speak of (unless instant coffee qualifies), I don't hesitate to snag three pounds of green-lipped mussels off the ice, flown in the day before from New Zealand. I pick up a nice Spanish white (and a silly bottle of rose' for Inge), some garlic and parsley and we're jaunting back home. Inge inspects her face for wrinkles in the vanity mirror the whole way home.
After I get home and unload the groceries, I work on the boy's lunch, with included a United Nations of dishes:
- cucumber sandwiches on thin European rye (English)
- salmon and lemon and avocado sushi (Japanese)
- raspberries and fuji apple in balsalmic vinegar (CA)
- fresh, buttered baguette slices (France)
- warm bean dip and chips (Latin America)
- quesadilla (Latin America)
- hot dog (USA).
The meal ends when my oldest loudly proclaims that there's a raccoon in my wife's shirt. (??) As a student of the unusual, I look carefully... and gasp and SCREAM as it starts to eat my hand... and at least my boys had some laughs for dessert.