Part of our simplification/life enhancement process is eating healthier. For those of you who don’t know, Ed has always done the cooking in our household (and for that, the kids will be forever grateful). I saw a set of aprons in a catalog yesterday that gave me a chuckle. One apron (for Ed) said, “She married me for my cooking.” The other apron (mine) said, “He didn’t marry me for my cooking.” Why should I bother to learn how to cook well if my husband is gifted in that area, and enjoys it to boot?
Anyway, for the last few years, Ed has made a special effort to steer our menus towards healthier fare. His favorite place to shop is the local natural food store. He bought kefir the other day. It’s some kind of Russian dairy product. It looks like buttermilk with lumps of God knows what. So gross. But it’s for him, not for me, thank goodness. I just have to turn away when he pours it.
That’s the point. He can experiment on himself as much as he wants. Just don’t test these concoctions on the rest of us. The family loves his cooking, but when we hear “experiment,” the groans begin. (He cooks for the extended family on holidays and at other times, but I am usually the recipient of his cooking skills, of course). He makes excellent chili, but every time he fools with the recipe, we are disappointed. Why tamper with perfection? He will put something in, take something out, change something here or there. He does this with cornbread and any other thing in his repertoire. Always tinkering. He just can’t leave well enough alone.
One of his dishes I adore is homemade beef vegetable soup. When he makes this, he usually makes a big pot of it and our culinary enjoyment can stretch several meals. The other night, we had some of that leftover soup. I anticipated the dinner all day with joy. I always look forward to soup night.
On this particular night, as I sat down to the table, I had an immediate misgiving. It was the smell. It didn’t smell right.
“Is this the regular homemade soup you usually make?” I asked. “It smells funny.”
Ed was reassuring. “It’s leftover soup from last week.”
Hmmm, I thought. I gingerly took a spoonful and immediately spit it out.
“That’s horrible!” I sputtered. “You say this is the same soup we had before? What happened?”
Ed was on his second spoonful. “It tastes OK to me,” he said. Of course, he had added his usual generous shot of Tabasco to his bowl, so his sense of taste was skewed.
“Well,” I said dejectedly as I pushed my bowl away, “it tastes fishy. It’s beef vegetable soup but it tastes fishy.”
“Doesn’t taste fishy to me,” he said, slurping his third spoonful.
“Well, this is unacceptable,” I replied. “I’m going to heat up a can of Bean and Bacon soup.”
As I got up to head to the stove, the horrible fishy taste apparently had made its way through the Tabasco in Ed’s bowl and he pushed his bowl aside. “You’re right,” he said. “It does taste fishy. Worse than fishy. It tastes like dead fish after the tide has gone out.”
Meanwhile I was at the stove, stirring my alternative entree.
“I can’t understand it,” I kept repeating. “It’s leftover soup, for Pete’s sake! We just had it last week! It’s the same soup, and last week it was delicious!” I just shook my head in befuddlement.
There was silence for a couple of minutes. Finally, Ed’s apparent guilt got the better of him, and I heard him say ever so quietly, “It may be because I put seaweed in it.”
SEAWEED? IN MY BEEF VEGETABLE SOUP?
Turns out he had bought seaweed at his last visit to the natural food store and thought it would be a good experiment to add it to the leftover soup. It was not a good experiment. It was a very, very bad experiment.
Ed seemed sincerely apologetic. “I thought it might make it taste salty, like the sea. I didn’t know it would taste like rotten fish. Sorry.”
You would think from this tale that Ed has learned his lesson - that experiments should stay out of the kitchen, that we are not human guinea pigs, and that just because it’s sold at the health food store doesn’t make it good. But somehow I doubt it. I notice he has one package of seaweed left. Lord help us.