Thursday, April 04, 2013

Again and again the same situation


Shakshuka as cooked from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi is a melange of red bell peppers, tomatoes, garlic, cumin, and harissa (North African chili paste) that you simmer until melded and delicious and in which you then poach eggs. Serve with bread and yogurt. BUT! Before you serve this magnificent yet simple dish, snap at your husband when he jovially (though not jokingly) wonders if he could have his eggs on toast as this looks "unconventional" and how does he know he's going to like the sauce? Tell him he has to try the food before criticizing. Glower. About 15 minutes later snap at your son when he says, neither jovially nor jokingly, that he's tired of the "weird" things you cook. When his father (ahem!) tells him to stop complaining your son says: "If I don't complain, how am I ever going to make change?"

How could anyone object?
Make change. Brood over those words. Eat in stony silence. Feel angry and disappointed and bitchy and deep down sure that this ongoing mealtime discord has to be your fault. Retire alone to the sofa to watch Circumstance, a movie about teenaged girls in Iran who like each other more than teenaged girls are allowed to like each other in Iran.

Back to first person now:  Circumstance was moving and disturbing. I recommend it. By the time it was over I wasn't mad anymore and no one was mad at me because we all basically like each other when we're not sitting around the dinner table.

Last night we didn't. We dined in front of The Walking Dead. I made Jamie Oliver's pasta carbonara with sausage meatballs which consists of linguine, olive oil, sausage, pancetta, cream, Parmesan, egg yolks, and lemon zest and tastes exactly like you would expect. I prefer shakshuka, but Owen ate the pasta carbonara like a walker with a fresh. . . no, that is rude. Owen ate a lot. He did mention that the pasta was "all lemony tasting," probably so I wouldn't get a swelled head. I wonder if he thinks that he is finally making change.
For about 10 beautiful minutes every afternoon the kitchen gets natural light.
How do we go forward in peace and harmony and food that isn't pasta?

There's no need to try to answer that. Isabel is getting her driver's license and Owen sounds like James Earl Jones and the question is almost moot. Disappointing eaters. Good kids.

Don't let my dismal story scare you off shakshuka. It's delicious, easy, healthy, and not "weird" at all. The recipe from Jerusalem has been published here on Food52, though they've cut the quantity of harissa to 1/6 the original amount. I approve; my shakshuka was fiery. This is a totally different version of shakshuka and looks excellent too.
Pride of Madeira

22 comments:

  1. Brave, relentless, undaunted, committed, TB moves forward to the roar of raucous applause from her awed, proud and inspired followers. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am making this tonight, teenager be damned. I have bread and she can just have more of that if she's still hungry.

    ReplyDelete
  3. OK. I'm sold -- not that I needed much convincing -- I'm making shakshuka this weekend as my reward for sucking it up HARD this week of writing.

    I know it wasn't so great in the moment, but honestly, this is hilarious and awesome:

    When his father (ahem!) tells him to stop complaining your son says: "If I don't complain, how am I ever going to make change?"

    ReplyDelete
  4. You are the best, TB. In addition to wonderful dinner ideas, now you've given me a great example of the uses of different perspectives in writing to show my homeschooled kiddo. Food for thought, indeed. And hey- didn't your crew like eggs in ranchera sauce (which has become a new staple in my house- hooray!)? Isn't that just shakshuka in a different costume?

    ReplyDelete
  5. I remember Anthony Bourdain made that pasta for Italians in Italy. I think they would have rather had shakshuka.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You should have married my husband who grew up in a family where they foraged in the supermarket freezer and canned food aisles for things that could be heated in a microwave. It's the only house I have ever been in that owned zero recipe books (even before the internet). His parents where very intelligent people with "power jobs" but properly cooked meals meant eating out and they didn't even seem to do that very much. Everyone just came home and grabbed a can of soup or Lean Cuisine. When my husband and I were dating I started cooking for him and I always remember the first time I made a pretty simple stuff pork chop type dish with a side of green beans with walnuts. He stared at it like I had spun hay into gold. He's been a grateful eater ever since. I think when Owen gets into the real world he is going to look back with longing at his mom's food passion. He'd better marry a cook or become one himself in order not to be too disappointed in his dinners of the future.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I admire your commitment to sharing meals with your family. I don't have kids, but my husband and I are as food-incompatible as it gets, and most of the time we just eat different things at different times rather than trying to find some common ground. I guess you just have to trust that your dinners are building your family in ways that aren't always apparent in the moment.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you for being realistic that not all these fabulous meals are well received.
    Our own "again and again" situation is Taco Tuesday and Spaghetti Wednesday because I cannot bear to attempt to come up with more things that one child will reject for reasons that did not exist until I explained what dinner was. ("Oh, those chips that are my favorite? Well, they were, I hate them now.") Keep the faith!

    ReplyDelete
  9. If it makes you feel better, know that I want to eat dinner at your house. My 10 year old has become an adventurous eater, but I still have 3 complainers. I let them each take a week choosing and helping cook dinner (even the 3 yr old) and that helps some with them complaints.
    Happy Cooking!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love your son and I am nostalgic for that happy time in my our lives when my son was Owen's age. Enjoy!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I live with 3 generations of eaters, from blended (for the baby),meat (my adult son) and hippie/flexitarian (me) I get the eww and yuck comments from the five and 9 yr old when I cook something beside pasta.(PLAIN pasta) I forge ahead. Your post made me really laugh.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am facing a similar situation tonight. I'm having family including grandchildren here. I planned on pizza for supper. The grandchildren said "Yes, yes." But they're Jewish, so no pork sausage, pepperoni, ham. Check. Husband is lactose intolerant so no cheese. Check. Second daughter is gluten intolerant. So no crust??!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sprouts had red bell peppers 3/1.00 so I tried this out, but without the eggs. Amazing stuff! My wife puts it in her lunch with cottage cheese or as a dip for artisan bread chips. I've already done a couple slight tweaks, but I'm looking to use it as a chicken ad fish marinade too. Thanks for the inspiration!

    ReplyDelete