Saturday, February 23, 2008

Midwest Myth Meets California Cuisine

This is funny. I was having dinner last night in Los Angeles with a friend of mine who like me, is from the Midwest. (Well, I'm from Oklahoma, more of the Northeastern portion of the Southwest, or the Southwestern portion of the Midwest, but you understand.) We were having a home cooked meal (me cooking, him standing around the crowded kitchen pouring more wine because I answered in the affirmative when he asked I you "cook with wine", silly me.) We had plans to invite his kid over so we could meet, apparently his son (who has a very strange name, so I'll call him Sid)is a MySpace friend of my daughter Caity's for reasons boys become friends with girls on line...he saw her pictures.

I purposely chose what I thought would be a great light and easy fix; I threw together a spinach and mushroom risotto - yes, I usually end up being the little Italian in my (or someone else's) kitchen because there is just so many choices and it always turns out good. You don't really use any meat with a spinach and mushroom risotto which was absolutely peachy with the boy, but the man, well - men like meat. He told me so. "Where's the meat in this thing?" he asked while he dug threw it with the end of the spatula...searching for sausage or maybe a little grilled chicken.

"No meat." I explained as I drank a little red reserve - trying not to make direct eye contact. This guy's green eyes orb through me and I can't stand up straight when he does that for much longer than a second or two. Telling him that there would be no meat in his dinner felt sort of like he was going to be staring for a while - waiting for me to either explain myself, or at least go back through his refrigerator to settle the matter before we actually sat down without candles; Sid insisted we do this without candles. Girls like candles.

Half way through the meal I finally coughed a little cough and looked up after feeling my foot being pressured from the other side of the table. The talk thus far had been coming from Sid, who not only loved the dish but wanted to know every minute detail about my daughter, who by the way is a vegetarian by choice but not fully committed as she has promised her Army-bound big brother that she will, in his honor, eat chicken once a month. Because my foot was being pinched I looked up to see two green eyes attached to a pirate's smile on a face I find too adorable to turn away from most of the time. "I made it for Sid." I answered. "Dad, chill out, you don't always have to kill something OK?" Green eyes shifted "I don't have to kill anything, I buy it dead and I happen to think children born in California may not have the full story; maybe they're just purposely depriving themselves for a cause that really doesn't make sense." I laughed at that one.

Pulling my feet under my chair I giggled..."I'll throw a piece of steak in the cake if you like." Midwestern man smiled, took a big meatless bite of his risotto and told me I was lucky he wasn't full Italian. I would live another day. This is good news...and when the boy isn't around maybe I will even feast on a little meat myself, and this time I'll light candles....girls like candles.

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