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September 16, 1993 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-09-16

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8 - The Michigan Daily - Weekend etc. - Thursday, September 16, 1993
Chef Boyardee, Uncle Ben... Meet My Mother

Mom was right. In certain situa-
tions,just saying "No" is not the thing to
A month ago a kid from a camp
where I had worked sent me a letter
saying he accepted the offer I'd made
before we returned to Ann Arbor. In a
moment's weakness, when I imagined
leaving behind the camp's taco pizzas
and watery, red Zippy juice for my own
microwave meals, I offered to hire him
as my cook. The kid wrote that he'd
recently made grilled chicken with corn,
mashed potatoes and apple cinnamon
and blueberry muffins. His resume also
included hamburgers,French fries, cres-
cent rolls and "plenty of other juicy
things." He backed up his claims of
culinary aptitude with references: "Lqts
of people who have tasted my food say
they love it (my dad says I get it from
him) and come back for more." Apple
cinnamon muffins. Grilled chicken. I
never cook such delicacies for myself.
Should I hire him? What would my

mom say? She'd say, "Can't you cook
for yourself yet?"
If Mom had gone to her Maker,
she'd be rolling in her grave at the
culinary atrocities her 22-year-old
daughter commits in the kitchen. Since
she's alive, she merely rolls her eyes,
sighs when she learns that I finally
know how to poach an egg and then.
mails me anothercookbook. Mom gave
me my first cookbook on my 13th birth-
day -"The Nancy Drew Cookbook,"
chock-full of intriguing concoctions like
Lilac Inn Consomm6 and Fire Dragon
Spiced Fruit. Mom undoubtedly hoped
I would devour the recipes as eagerly as
I did Carolyn Keene's mystery novels.
Granted, the recipes described delec-
table dishes, but even at nine years of
age, I realized how much work goes
into preparing a meal that will be con-
sumed in 20 minutes. I'd seen Mom
baking cakes from scratch and cultivat-
ing a yeastmixture in our refrigerator to
make sourdough. Mom's no gourmet
(though herchocolate chip cookies won

high praise from my grade-school
friends), but she has the necessary pa-
tience, skill and even love for home-
cooking that I both sorely lack and
Mom says, "You're going to have to
learn sometime."
During adolescence, my domestic
ineptness symbolized my rebellion
against traditional. female tasks like
cooking. Although there was no danger
in my enrolling in Home Ec. (a class
whose popularity had been dwindling
since the late '70s), there was no warn-
ing that I would refuse to learn any
culinary skills from my mom. After
seeing how bland the "Campbell Soup
Cookbook," the "Hershey Chocolate
Lover's Cookbook," her own copy of
"The Sweet Sixteen Cookbook" and
other recipe books proved to my palate,
Mom might have thrown in the dish
towel and dubbed me hopeless.
But Mom believes in the "Wait and
See You'll Change Your Mind When
You Starve" ideology, which decrees

thata student can live on chicken patties
and spaghetti for only so long before an
overwhelming appetite for more gour-
met cuisine kicks in.
As usual, Mom is right.
Occasionally, my stomach grumbles
for foods not found in my customary
diet, meaning any dish that requires
more preparation than boiling water or
opening a can and microwaving its con-
tents. Every light-year or so, when I find
money in my wallet, I dine out. Other
times, I satisfy my craving on generous
dinner invitations.
Last semester, I ran into a guy I
hadn't really talked to for four years. He
invited me to a bar and to a show at the
Comedy Club. We had a few drinks and
roused a few laughs to fill up the space
in our "nice-weather-we're-having"
conversation. My "See you later" part-
ing had really meant "Have a nice life,"
but a week later, he invited me out
"Well, I'm kind of busy," I hedged.
"Oh, really," he said. "I thought I

might cook a dinner for us."
"Dinner?" I asked, feeling the diges-
tive juices slosh excitedly in my stom-
"Yeah, anything you like. How about
"Shrimp's good," I agreed, imagin-
ing the succulent white meat melting in
my mouth. Good, free food for an
evening of insipid communication?
If Mom found out I sacrificed an
evening fora free meal ... of course, she
never warned me about men who cook
for women. Heck, my brothers never
got cookbooks for their birthday. She
probably doesn't know they exist, but
I'm sure she has her suspicions. She
knows that I live in a house of female
non-gourmets who revolt against the
stereotypical female susceptibility to
domestication and/or show no interest
in variegated diets.
We cook to eat, not to savor. Mom
understands that students who cook only
for themselves have neither the time nor

the dependents to make complicated
meals. She also recognizes our cook-
ing for what it is, as a means of sustain-
ing life rather than spicing it up. I'd
rather gorge myself on fictional treats
like "Fried Green Tomatoes" and "Like
Water for Chocolate" than digest a
recipe in "The Joy of Cooking." Mom
realizes thatcollege students have more
important things to do than prepare pot
But she also sees how our apathy
towards serious cooking might endan-
ger the existence of genuine home-
cooked meals. What will our children
eat? Microwave filet mignon and as-
tronaut ice cream, at best. Perhaps,
during this epoch of instant coffee and
minute rice, a gastronomical gene will
manifest itself in our progeny. Chil-
dren will prepare cordons-bleusentrdes
for their nuked-out parents.
Of course, Mot would say I'm full
of baloney.
She also says I better hire the kid-
just in case.


I .3

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All shows
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Bring I.D.
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Great Performances-Half-Price!

University Musical Society's
Student Ticket Sale
Saturday, September 18
10 A.M.-1 P.M., Hill Auditorium

Urban Bush Women,
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan,
or Betty Carter for $8!

Feld Ballets/NY for


Kronos String
Quartet with Hermeto
Pascoal et Grupo
for $8.50!

Betty Carter
Jessye Norman
U-M School of Music Faculty
Artists Concert
Feld Ballets/NY
Andre Watts in an Evening of
Chamber Music
Les Ballets Africains of Guinea
St. Petersburg Philharmonic
Mariss Jansons, conductor
Dmitri Alexeev, pianist
Boston Musica Viva
Claire Bloom, narrator
Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra
Kurt Masur, conductor
Christopher Parkening
Thomas Hampson
Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers
Uptown String Quartet
The Stratford Festival's
Stratford-on-Ann Arbor
The Importance of Being Earnest
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Handel's Messiah
Canadian Brass
Trio Tchaikovsky
Borodin String Quartet
Shostakovich String Quartet

Hungarian State Folk Ensemble
Pilar Rioja and Company
James Galway, flutist
Christopher O'Riley, pianist
Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra
New York City Opera National
Puccini's Madama Butterfly
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Kenneth Jean, conductor
Philip Sabransky, pianist
Urban Bush Women
Kronos String Quartet
Hermeto Pascoal et Grupo
Moscow Philharmonic
Vassily Sinaisky, conductor
Gil Shaham, violinist
U-M School of Music Faculty
Artists Concert
Guitar Summit
Pepe Romero, Leo Kottke,
Joe Pass, Paco Pena
Murray Perahia, pianist
Emerson String Quartet
Joshua Bell, violinist
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Neeme Jarvi, conductor
University Choral Union
Thomas Sheets, music director
Beaux~ Arts Trio

See the biggest and brightest names in classical
and jazz, dance, theatre and opera including
Jessye Norman, Betty Carter, Feld Ballets/NY, the
Stratford Festival, New York City Opera National
Company, and other select performances, for
HALF-PRICE- between just $5 and $19!
Valid Student I.D. required
Limit 2 tickets per event -

Jessye Norman,
James Galway, or
the St. Petersburg
Philharmonic for $8!


Canadian Brass for

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