A Merry Acronym Christmas
“It’s veal. It probably came from a very depressed calf; can we just eat in peace? And get LOIB out from under the table!”
I get glares from TOO and BOB but TSWITMLM just smirks.
Introductions are in order. As always, there’s the Big, Old Brunette (BOB) and her two daughters, The Step-Daughter I Adore Like She Was My Own (TSDIALSWMO) and her younger sister, The Other One (TOO) and Her New Beau, (HNB). A last-minute invitee is My First Wife (MFW) with our only offspring, The Son Who Is Too Much Like Me, (TSWITMLM) and seated next to him is My Mother, Big Sigh (MM, BS) a recent widow. The Grand Kids X 2 (GKX2), whose mother is TSDIALSWMO are there as well.
Making her constant circuitous path between lounging under the dining room table, shedding on the couch and whining at the back door is Lucy, Our Incontinent Beagle (LOIB). She adores MFW much to the annoyance of the BOB and we all have congregated in Our Little Love Nest (OLLN) for Christmas dinner. Joining us is the BILFM, who is the BOB’s brother-in-law from Minneapolis, a recent widower an infrequent visitor and a terrific guy.
The fly shop did well this Christmas season, the whole year in fact and I’m beat from several 60-hour weeks but happy to have my family here as long as they behave. In a prior life, I was in the food service business and after standing on my feet all day at the Shop I find that cooking relaxes me. It also brings out my creative side; it drives me to the side of my brain infrequently visited.
“Could somebody let LOIB out?”
Some think that being a fly tyer is creative but it’s more akin to factory work. As a production fly tyer, I annually crank out 600 dozen flies and they all need to match the original pattern with precious few variations. There is no creative outlet for me at the vise. Researching menus and spending time at my stove in OLLN is a creative outlet I crave. When I cook for my family, I need to be creative and here’s why.
TOO is a militant vegetarian. Some ill feelings still exist about my selling animal parts in the Fly Shop as fly tying materials. These sales afforded this very meal but, I digress.
Her sister TSDIALSWMO won’t eat cooked tomatoes but fresh ones are fine (or is it the other way around… did I not see her eating a pizza?), garlic does not agree with the BILFM and the GKX2 will eat everything they recognize but nothing they don’t. The first B in the BOB is because I cook for her well and often.
MM, BS feigns a cholesterol issue except when it comes to ice cream. This is a sweet she cannot live without. Her hunger for sweets is a leftover scar from her battle with alcohol, (BWA) which she has won triumphantly. I found the hard way that the BWA is somewhat hereditary so I have my own issues to face. My BWA got in the way of a whole lot of living. When it came to Martinis I knew my limit but I got drunk before I got there. I love my family and my BWA was affecting them so I quietly wage my own war.
“Can’t you hear LOIB whining to get back in? Somebody let her in!”
I drink non-alcoholic beer, cook without garlic when the BILFM is in town, omit cooked tomatoes from the menu (or is it fresh…was TSDIALSWMO eating a B.L.T. earlier?) and go lightly on the butter when MM, BS is here. GKX2 kind of fend for themselves and are fairly good eaters except when TOO is in town when they become pickier.
Good Eaters are who Foodies like me love to cook for. When TOO announced earlier this year that for Christmas she was bringing HNB, my first thought was: “Is he a Good Eater?”OLLN was getting too crowded and my BWA was raging. Maybe just one real beer? This thought aloud earned a glare from the BOB. No, we have guests for dinner.
“Push LOIB off of the couch, would you please?”
Back to the GKX2, they were not thrilled to find out from TSWITMLMthe mushrooms they used to eat and enjoy are a type of fungi. The word mushroom is fun to pronounce when you’re a little person but the word fungi is not. Based solely on the pronunciation, mushrooms are now out.The salad course went just O.K. TSDIALSWMO picked off the fresh tomatoes wordlessly; the GKX2 would not eat the mushrooms because of TSWITMLM’s fungi comment and the dressing did have a whisper of garlic but the BILFM did not seem to notice. MM, BS, MFW and the BOB were fine.
My Blanquette du Veau with fresh pasta was a disaster. Too much cream for MM, BS and TOO was livid that I had an innocent calf slaughtered for a dinner to celebrate the birth of our Lord. This was an act I found comforting in an Old Testament kind of way.
“Am I the only one who hears LOIB whining to be let out?”
MFW, a farm girl who followed in her mother’s footsteps and cooked everything to death, was never a foodie. She had her own peculiarities with food; she called them noodles. Fettuccini, linguini, and even macaroni were never referred to as pasta down on the farm; they were noodles.
When MFW asked to have the noodles passed to her, TSWITMLM snickered at his mother’s hick-ness. The GKX2 knew the home made effort in the serving bowl borrowed from MM, BS should be called pasta. So they immediately put their forks down. TOO alternated steely glances between me and HNB who was shoveling in the veal. I beamed; he’s a Good Eater!
One of the GKX2 hopped down off of his chair to let LOIB inside and I noticed that LOIB seemed far too happy to see him. I looked over to see that he had pasta in one hand, fungi in the other and was sharing his dinner with LOIB. She’s a good eater, too!
“Stop feeding LOIB!”
Desserts were individual Pannetone bread puddings, a delicious but questionable menu choice. I had forgotten that the BOB liked neither raisins nor currants; the pudding base had both eggs and cream so MM, BS was irritated but her mouth was too full to object. There wasn’t a suggestion of garlic in the dessert and the BILFM looked a little bloated from the salad dressing but he devoured his pudding anyway. MFW was puzzled that pie was not served as it always had been on the farm, and why would pudding have bread in it? She's not a foodie. Much eye rolling from TSWITMLM and I whispered to him, “that’s why I divorced her.”
He quickly reminded me that MFW had her version, which was this: Ever since Dad was a teenager, he liked to, umm…shop. The world was his mall and he liked to have many stores to shop in. Marriage never stopped Dad from shopping around and Dad really liked to visit the newer stores that were not too brightly lit but had a big shelves. His mother did not like his Dad shopping around so we needed to not shop together.
Now I happily shop in one store and one store only. Have for 18 years.
O.K. back to dessert where one future relative was happy but TOO announced the white flour was poison and for her, dinner was so over and flounced away from the table.
“Whose shoes is LOIB throwing up on?”
OLLN was now chaotic and my BWA was raging. The idea of Christmas Day Steelheading on the St. Joe River in Indiana was looking better.
Coffee after was no picnic, either. A half-caff here and a de-caff there and what do you mean you have no green tea? More eye rolling then “Dad, caffeine is so bad for you”; it’s the only thing TSWITMLM remembers from his health class.
“Fine, no coffee for me. Would you be happier if I had a Martini? And get LOIB off of the couch!”
We opened presents after dinner, the GKX2 were dynamos fueled by sugar and laughter. The BILFM belched quietly while sitting in my easy chair. He is a terrific guy. MFW and the BOB sat at opposite ends of the couch avoiding each other like cats.
The BOB beamed while watching the GKX2 open presents and even TSWITMLM was in a decent mood although it was hard to tell as he had a new Ipod jammed in his ears. With a grunt, LOIB finally settled in under the dining room table.
When there was a lull in the unwrapping process I noticed that the BILFM was eyeing MM, BS and she was not objecting. Too much wine or maybe the BILFM was not such a terrific guy after all. The thought of them shopping together made my bile rise.
TOO and HNB were far too cuddly for my comfort and then came an announcement that distracted me from the BILFM and MM,BS.
We’ll soon have GKX3, thanks to TOO and HNB. I hope one day to teach our newest GK to fly fish and I hope he’s a Good Eater.