Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Is it supposed to look like that?
I don’t know how food traditions get started, other than local abundance of certain items. I try not to be too awfully judgmental when it comes to cooking methods and I’ll try just about anything once.
I am not totally averse to sticking vegetables in cream sauce. It has its place with certain vegetables (Did I ever mention how much I hate the term “veggies?” No? I’m mentioning it now.) Creamed spinach is a traditional German dish my grandmother on my father’s side taught my mother to make – strangely, without using milk. I also grew up with cream sauce on cauliflower.
The thing with cream sauce is that it tends to mask or dull the flavor of the vegetable. I accept that everyone has that “evil” vegetable (kale) for which masking is a good thing. But, other than kids natural aversion to anything green (my nephew wouldn’t even eat green Jello), vegetables aren’t that bad and not that strong of flavor.
Imagine my horror, my incredulity, my utter shock when Dirtman informed me within our first year of marriage that he puts cream sauce on asparagus. What kind of warped, maniac practice is that? What did asparagus ever do to his family? And even worse: In order to cook the asparagus to put into the cream sauce it is boiled into a wimpy, weepy stalk. Oh, the humanity!
Well, I set him straight about that filthy habit, make no mistake. We’ll have no defiling of such a noble vegetable as asparagus. Around here asparagus is cut at an angle and stir fried briefly in only the best extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with just a touch of Kosher salt. The asparagus maintains aspargusian integrity, let me tell you.
Once we settled the asparagus fiasco, you would think Dirtman would accept that widespread use of cream sauce was absolutely anathema within the confines of this household. But no. Every spring he would lament not having fresh peas and new potatoes in cream sauce.
That’s right. Peas. Potatoes. Cream sauce.
Peas and pearl onions in cream sauce – maybe. Potatoes in creams sauce – scalloped potatoes; add some cheese – au gratin. But peas and potatoes creamed?
Apparently this is a southern thing. Is this a southern thing? Is it some kind of southern code: When in doubt – cream it? What is wrong with you people?
I am, though – I insist – a good wife. And as such, decided to humor Dirtman. It only took me 21 years to do it.
He was kind enough to, at least, help shell the peas.
Then I cooked the potatoes, added the peas, creamed the lot of it, shoved it in a bowl and served it up with a salad. Lovingly.
Heir 2 had Cocoa Puffs and Heir 1 hid at work.
Dirtman ate it. He did. I sat at that table and watched him put creamed peas and potatoes into his mouth, chew and swallow.
So, I guess this is what it’s supposed to look like and taste like. Dirtman seemed happy. I guess that was the point. It certainly had a strange mouthfeel to it.
Now I must conjure something disgusting from my background for him to eat. Only my grandmother never passed down the recipe for the roasted sheep’s head or the tripe marinara over pasta.