My mother — a sublime cook — has never once photographed a meal to show anyone who wasn’t there to eat it in the first place. Is she just more grown-up and self-confident than my attention-hungry, food-blogging, instagram-ing generation? Or has she really missed a good thing?
We can’t say it isn’t fun.
This weekend, my youngest and I inaugurated a new cookbook: Nigellissima, by Nigella Lawson. He looked through all the pictures, and made his choice. Panettone French Toast with Pomegranates.
After a grocery excursion, we dug in. First, the pomegranates. I tried dislodging the seeds by whacking the outside shell with the flat side of a chef’s knife. My son used the meat tenderizer on his half. Guess whose tool worked best?
Soon we had soaked bread sizzling in the skillet,
and it was time to hug the sous chefs.
There goes our Health Department rating for the month.
The french toast turned out great. We recommend the recipe, and the cookbook.
And the blogging, too.
Here’s what happened when I dumped the tyrannous schedule.
(1) The al fresco tepee. Glad I never cleared the yard after the month’s heavy windstorms.
(2) The Scrabble marathon. I recommend growing your own rivals.
(3) The long, storytelling lunch. Everyone plays, and the stars win . . .
(4) Yard-sale training. We only just missed coming home with a giant, gilded coat of arms for the kitchen wall. Now, I’m sorry we didn’t.
With only young sons of my own, I spend very little time with girls. But they’ve been much on my mind.
My fifth grader and I spent all day Saturday at a basketball tournament. His team played five games, and we watched many more, including two girls’ games. I was not an athlete in high school (nor since), so maybe I’ve just been missing something, but to me these girls looked like a new species. They were very fast, graceful, and aggressive. They made astonishing baskets from unlikely spots. They took game-breaking foul shots with no bare emotion. They were all — honestly — lovely. And they played for schools with famously high academic standards. What a lot to perfect.
It occurred to me, sitting in the bleachers, that being a mother of girls now must be so much about winning them the chance to own a reshaped future. So many new paths, so many fresh models and roles. So much in the culture urging them to be newly fierce and in charge.
Even the path to self-destruction’s given a dramatic, epic quality, if you count the cover-girl stars of Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant. How to harness and steer all that cultural thrust — all that, “you go, girl”? I don’t envy that job.
Still, it’s very different with boys. The culture has degraded so many traditional roles and behaviors for men (as for women) BUT without offering boys good new alternatives. Sure, maybe not every boy should grow up to be the dad in My Three Sons — adult, devoted, peaceful, responsible, energetic, job-holding, tie-wearing — or Andy Griffith, but who in the popular culture would I want my boys to emulate instead? I have a hard time coming up with a list (though I would love any suggestions). So at our house, we’re always pulling backwards, resisting the cultural thrust. We pretty much ban commercial television and radio, most video games, and almost all movies with a rating above PG. We drill table manners, saying “ma’am” and “sir,” writing thank-you notes, and making eye contact when you shake hands. We practice how to hold up your end of a dinner conversation without drifting off or taking over, either. All that finger-in-the-dike work.
So far I’ve thought it matters.
But will it prepare them for Sasha Fierce?