I have a confession to make: I never taught my daughter to cook. At all. Of course, in my defense, she doesn’t actually eat, so… Okay, that’s not quite true: she does, occasionally, eat things. But she doesn’t have nearly the appreciation—or, as some would say, obsession—for food that I do. This is the girl who ordered jello for dessert at an ice cream parlor. The girl who once ate one bite of whipped cream from the top of a piece of cheesecake and then declared “I’m done.” The girl who always ended up throwing out most of her Halloween candy because it got old and stale.
Of course, part of the reason she never actually eats is because she discovered the joy of coffee at age twelve, and has since seemed to survive on it like a hummingbird on nectar. All I can say is “thank God for lattes,” because without them I’m sure she would be the first child in Flagstaff to be diagnosed with rickets in a very long time.
But then she went to Ireland for five months, and maybe it was the switch away from coffee to tea, or maybe it was the fact that she was living with the kind of people who actually expected her to eat, but she came back not only eating, but cooking, which, really, should be all kinds of wonderful, but in all honesty, isn’t at all. And that’s because the truth is she came back knowing that there was such a thing as food, and knowing that that food needed to be cooked before it could be eaten, but without knowing any of the skills necessary to put those two things together.
Not that she hasn’t tried.
You know how when your kid is three they have a tea party with their stuffed animals and they hand you a tea cup full of what you hope to God is just muddy water and you lift the cup up to your lips and make drinking noises until they finally look away so you can dump the whole thing in a potted plant and ask for seconds? Yeah, that doesn’t work so well when your kid is seventeen and has just cooked you dinner. And by cooked I mean put in a frying pan and then taken back out almost immediately afterward.
I suppose at this point I should be thankful that Clementine is still mostly a vegetarian, because if that’s all she thinks you need to do to kale to make it edible then I can’t imagine how she would serve me a hamburger. No, actually, I can imagine how: it would probably still be attached to the cow. The living, breathing, mooing cow. Because if kale had a pulse it would have still been beating when she put it in front of me. And no, it was not a kale salad.
Actually, it was not kale anything. It was kale. Slightly warmed, barely chopped, kale. Which I know is all the rage right right now, but seriously? It was like trying to eat a green dish scrubbie, but less pleasant, because at least the scrubbie has been used on plates that once held actual food.
But still: this was my child, and she had made me dinner. Ish. And so I dutifully folded up a piece of kale the size of a dishcloth and shoved it into my mouth, where it promptly unfolded into something the size of a tablecloth. I chewed as vigorously as I could, not because I was enjoying it but because I was afraid that if I stopped the kale would get the upper hand and grow yet again.
Meanwhile, my daughter waited expectantly for my reaction.
Something tells me it’s time to start buying more plotted plants.