Friday, November 6, 2009

I love the 21st century

I learned my way around the kitchen from my mother, who was a wonderful cook both because of her skill and her adventurousness. I still use most of her pots and utensils, not to mention her spice jars (and in fact I think I still have some of her spices.)

While both my parents embraced the ethnicity-numbing melting pot and post war suburbia, she continued to cook "ethnic" throughout her life. I never even heard of frozen french fries, or knew that real people actually ate green beans baked in canned mushroom soup or put mini marshmallows in salad until I was in college. I remember the day in my junior year when roommate pulled the frozen french fries out of the freezer and spread them on a baking sheet. I asked what they were, and she looked at me like I had two heads (actually, she always looked at me like that, in her safe little suburban worldview I did have two heads.)

Because of this, one of my favorite things to eat as a little girl was tv dinners. The old fashioned Swanson ones in the divided aluminum trays. These were my main experience of "American" food. My mother never made hamburgers-- she made Greek or Swedish meatballs. Forget fried chicken; our chicken was Greek, too, marinated in lemon and oregano. Steaks? Never-- Julia Child's best boeuf bourguignon, but learned, not from Julia, but from her Proven├žal landlady in Aix after the war. And of course, french fries were, well, fried.

This week, after being sick for several days, I relented on the cooking and told Bill to just buy some canned and frozen meals, and he bought a couple of "tv dinners" multi-culti style. Swanson, move over, this company makes Chicken Tikka-Masala. And it was pretty good.

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