AS LONG AS I’VE LIVED IN TEXAS I’VE COME TO UNDERSTAND THE WAY IN WHICH BLESSINGS ARE, MANY TIMES, BESTOWED. What’s been longed for and dreamt of has been granted, but not without sadness and a debt to be paid. It seems that now is not the time to mess with fussy recipes, but to boil a pot of beans and bake a pan of cornbread or a cobbler. Something to help us savor the elemental and remember what we love about our hard-edged state.
Humor helps too. Even in times like these, it’s okay, and even necessary to smile a little. I wrote this about a year ago after having dinner at one of the artsy restaurants Austin is becoming known for. It began as being about one thing, then turned into being about other things too. I submitted it, naive and hopeful, to several publications and received kind, even encouraging rejections (It’s not you, it’s us.) Here is is for you. Just for grins.
JASE: Hey Babe, I’m home. Sorry I’m late. Should not have taken that last…..Whoa, Jen. You’ve got that a little loud, don’t you think? Hey Jen?
JEN: In the kitchen, Jase!
JASE: Hope the neighbors love Michael Jackson, hon….you make dinner?
JEN: Everyone loves Michael Jackson, Jase, and, yes, I did make dinner. Strange you should ask, though. It is Friday night.
JASE: I know, I know, honey. But you know how tired I am on Fridays. Let’s go out tomorrow night. That be okay? What have you got going on in here?
JEN: Small plates, Jase. What I’ve got going on in here is small plates.
JASE: Small plates?
JEN: Yes, you know like the kind we ordered when we went to The Suckled Pig several, if not many, months ago?
JASE: Yeah, I think I remember that place. Okay, looks interesting. I’m starved. Hope there are many small plates! You want wine?
JEN: I’ve started without you, Jase. But now that you mention it, I’m a little low. Fill me up and pour yourself a glass. You can enjoy it with your smaller plate.
JACE: Smaller plate?
JEN: Yes, Jase, that’s what we’ll start with before the small plates.
JASE: Okay, babe. I’m up for anything. But what are these? Cup saucers? Did we get new dishes?
JEN: You noticed.
JASE: Yes, but well, I noticed they don’t match. And your serving the food on cup saucers?
JEN: That’s right, Jase. They are the smallest plates we have. And yes, they don’t match. Don’t you think that’s creative? I got a great deal at the Sacred Incarnate Thrift-shop. Did you know everyone shops there now? Plus, they’re open till seven on Fridays.
JASE: No, Jen, I didn’t. But what happened to our regular dishes?
JEN: I picked them up off the floor and put them in the trash.
JASE: The trash?
JEN: Yes, Jase. What do you expect me to do with broken dishes?
JASE: They broke? All of them?
JEN: Pretty much. I found one I missed when I was putting away the new ones. Or the new old ones. Whatever.
JASE: What happened, babe?
JEN: Well, Jase, I threw the plates. They hit the floor. They broke. The end. Then I took a cab to the Sacred Incarnate. The driver was so nice. He helped me load and unload. He just left a few minutes ago. Anyway, your food is getting cold.
JASE: Wait. You took a cab?
JEN: Yes, Jase. I wouldn’t do anything stupid.
JASE: Yeah, okay, Jen. Hey, honey, you alright?
JEN: I’m dandy, Jase. Just sit down. Here’s your smaller plate.
JASE: Sure, okay. But what is it?
JEN: What I’ve made for you, Jase, is a Roast of Olive, on a Chop of Pan-Browned Potatoes.
JASE: You mean hash browns? This sauce tastes a little like ketchup.
JEN: No one calls them hash browns anymore, Jase, and that is a Sauce of Spiced Tomatoes. But yes, you’re right! What a refined palate you’ve developed. It is infused with ketchup. I’m waiting, Jase. You’ve got a funny look. What is it? You don’t like my food?
JASE: It’s interesting, hon. But what comes next? It was just, um, one olive.
JEN: Okay, Jase. I hope I’ve peaked your appetite because I have your first small plate here.
JASE: It looks like, what, pepperoni? And are those Cheerios on top?
JEN: I call them Chee-cha-roos, Jase. I added chili powder. A little crunch, a little heat?
JASE: Humm…what’s this on the bottom?
JEN: That, Jase, is a Mash of Roots Pasta, as in the pasta you grew up with? Or maybe I’ll call it Pasta Americana. I haven’t decided.
JASE: Is this the mac and cheese from Monday night?
JEN: Right again, Jase! You see, it’s all local and sustainable. Green, Jase. We are part of the solution. No more food waste!
JASE: I’ll be right back.
JEN: Where you going?
JASE: To get our coats. We’re going to the Suckled Pig.