How one regularly dines the last meal of the day, can define the time and space one finds oneself in at that point in life. As a kid, what did dinner-time look like? The end of the day meal was the hour before everyone in the house went off to separate pursuits, homework, a good book, or the television. In my case, there as an ashtray on the table and what was served was what was dinner – simply no other options. Conversations revolved around each diner’s events of the day. Being sullen and pre-pubescent didn’t buy you a pass to silence.
Dinners while living overseas were sometimes quick escapes to a hotel dining room seeking refuge with other foreigners, or being careful not to offend the domestic staff while asking to join them for their dinner. Customs require respect. Truth be told, meals defined my loneliness then.
Dinners with small daughters were a carefully carved out time of the day for Jeff and I. We fed the girls first, then allowed ourselves the luxury of eating alone every night, it was the time to take a deep breath from the whirlwind of life at that stage. He is an excellent cook.
I do love to cook, but only if there is someone to appreciate it. Left to my own devices, I’ve been known to exist on popcorn. That was before age turned it into a dental nightmare. It is the perfect food – a vehicle for salt and butter that fills you up! If I were a horse or a dog, trainers would say I am not food motivated. This clashes with my love to cook. Taste is key and my taste buds become bored faster than the media drops a disaster du jour…what was the theme song for those news reports about the missing Malaysian airliner?
So dinner these days is fun to make but needs to keep my attention long enough to eat it before being distracted by a book or newspaper or the need to wash those darn couch covers. I cook on my fireplace all winter. Right over the wood, all sorts of wonderful dishes and I have arranged an ingenious, Rube Goldberg setup with various grill parts and bricks. Cooking on the grill all summer should be a breeze, right? I’m going to blame this on an ancient charcoal grill, not my lack of skills; everything I cook lately disappointed me. It is either overdone, underdone or just plain dried out.
A gas grill is not an option, I don’t trust them and I liked the flavor of charcoal. Initially it was those lovely, brown bags of Cowboy Charcoal, the chunk stuff that was a little harder to light because it wasn’t saturated in chemicals but it burned evenly and for a really long time. After three bags of dust that would never stay lit, I gave up on Cowboy Charcoal this summer. On to the chemical soaked stuff!
Lately, dinner is saved by the wonderful world of infused olive oils and vinegars. This is not a plug for the store as I don’t work on commission. I soaked shrimp in the new Coconut white balsamic vinegar with a dash of Baklouti Green Chili infused olive oil, a dash of lemon flavored sea salt and a grind of pepper. That all went into a baggy in the fridge before work. When I came home I also dug out some marinated lamb chunks that were in the “must go” category. I had given them a good soak in Rosemary infused olive oil and Lemongrass/Mint white balsamic with Applewood smoked sea salt and a grind of pepper.
Dinner is a reflection of where you are in life.