Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pucker up, buttercup

image via CocteauBoy

I wonder if I ever told you the barbecue sauce story. It’s not much, but it was a sit-up-and-notice moment in my then-boyfriend’s heart that I’m a good one. He’s a now-husband, that then-boyfriend, and he was right, of course.

Not long after the wildly successful barbecue sauce, which you must know I made from scratch immediately after he tossed out a “you don’t keep barbecue sauce in your fridge?” comment, I planned another meal. Turning to the same cookbook from whence the sauce had come, by trusty Joy of Cooking, I looked at the recipe for lemon chicken.

Be it known that:

-I was 22 or 23 and that was probably my only cookbook
-I had never eaten lemon chicken
-I had never made lemon chicken
-I don’t like lemon as a flavor
-and I don’t really like chicken
-but the then-boyfriend liked lemon as a flavor
-in desserty things, like lemon meringue pie and lemon bars
-but I had room for earning points for culinary adventurousness even at the expense of not quite fabulousness, because he had probably never had lemon chicken, either.

So it was a good enough plan, which is probably how you could describe most of my plans. The intentions are there, the big picture and reasoning are lovely and sound, the anticipated result is fantastic, of course, and the details are…a little underrepresented. I just don’t see those details, usually, when I’m planning. That’s never stopped me from proceeding.

So given all that, of course I decided to cook the lemon chicken. It sounded exciting.

My culinary skills then are probably comparable to my sewing skills now: daring, curious, filled with ideas, unafraid to follow instructions (recipe or pattern) to an expected outcome, and utterly lacking in technical foundation. I didn’t know anything about anything. So I juiced a bag of lemons and looked at the next step, which called for heating the juice over low heat while stirring in a cup of sugar. A cup of sugar? What is this, a cake? There’s no way that’s right, I thought, and used maybe a tablespoon.

I don’t remember whether the lights were on in the room or the windows were still providing enough brightness. I don’t remember what I was wearing, or what side dishes were on the plate. I don’t remember if we had music playing, or if we could hear the Bosnians playing soccer in the parking lot outside, or if the television was on in the background. But I will never forget the expression on his face as he took that first bite of chicken. His mouth formed a vacuum as his cheeks involuntarily suctioned each other so tightly he could have choked on his own displaced tongue. Unable to release the contraction of his face, he squished out the kindest and least convincing words ever spoken in Syracuse, New York:

“it’s good!”

The point of the story is this: I have made many mistakes in life, but marrying that liar is not one of them. And for the rest of our years, he carries in him the gift of being able to let me know exactly what he thinks by saying, “well, it’s better than the lemon chicken.”


This post is inspired by Getting Married and Other Mistakes by Barbara Slate. This graphic novel offers a raw, yet humorous look at what happens to Jo after a surprise divorce. Join From Left to Write on Thursday, June 28 as we discuss Getting Married and Other Mistakes by Barbara Slate. I received a review copy of the book and all opinions are my own.

I don't have much first-hand knowledge about divorce, but I do have a few friends who are suffering through the few process, as well as a few friends who have healed nicely from its wounds. I just read something on divorce that made a lot of sense to me, and if you're hurting through the divorce process, maybe it will bring some comfort to you.

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Nancy Cavillones said...

This made me laugh. I've had my own cooking mistakes & I can always tell when my husband would really rather not. He usually lies by omission or makes a face like he's afraid to tell me how disgusting it is. LOL Though I usually catch it before I serve it and order take-out...

Thien-Kim aka Kim said...

What a fabulous story! That's when you know they love you. When they eat your cooking and say they love it-whether it really is good or not.

Amy from Occupation: Mommy said...

That's so funny! He sounds like a keeper :) Have you ever attempted lemon chicken again?

January Dawn said...

Oh goodness...this cracked me UP Robin. You definitely got a good catch there my dear.

(I LOVE a good lemon chicken recipe - I will assume you haven't attempted one since?) ;)