Appreciation of a Culinary Triumph | Opinion


Listen, ladies. (Run, men. Run and hide.)

Does anyone else have a husband like mine? A wonderful, loyal man except… a grunt means agreement. A shrug means OK. An hour of hair and makeup gets half a smile. He rations compliments as if they were gold bars.

This requires a little backtracking.

Last week I had a wild hair after finding an easy recipe and decided to cook.

“I’m going to make corn stew,” I told Widdle.

“Mmmm hmmm,” he replied, which is a verbal roll.

That’s because when normal women announce they’re going to cook, they shake up a few pots and pans and create a delicious couch of chicken, buns, or roast pork.

I drop a dozen eggs and the pot of butter, spill flour on the floor, knock over the spice cabinet, melt a spatula on a burner, smash two bowls, burn three pans, splatter grease on all surfaces and, inevitably, turn off the smoke detector.

With that scream in the background, I calmly announce, “Your %#$&^!* dinner is ready!”

Sometimes the meal looks like food. More often than not, it looks like a burnt offering to a very angry god.

Cooking is therefore not one of my main talents. Actually, I kinda like it, but moderate interest doesn’t equal talent.

(In my defense, I make delicious sugar-free desserts, through years of tinkering and experimenting with recipes. You’d never know my fudge candies were sugar-free, just like you’d never know that this piece of charcoal I served was originally chicken.)

Yet every once in a while – perhaps influenced by hormones – I insist on baking, frying or boiling something. (The method doesn’t matter because everything ends up the same: regret on a plate.)

Which brings us to last week. We usually spend Fridays by the river, eating with friends. In 17 years, Widdle (who knows well what he married, which is to say not a chef) let me have food maybe four times – and twice it was a dip with Harris-Teeter spinach.

When I saw the corn stew recipe, I realized we already had the ingredients: Canned corn (I used spicy corn salsa because why not); butter; sour cream; Corn cream; and cornbread mix.

I threw everything together and baked at 350 for 45 minutes. I did a little praying too, because the cream of corn + butter + sour cream doesn’t look very raw. It was pale and wavy like pudding, and you know how much I hate pudding.

So it was a gamble… which paid off, boom!

It came out all golden and buttery and made the house smell delicious. A sample bite was…perfection. Stunned, I left the pan to cool by the sink, poured a glass of fine wine, and headed for the den.

When I got back, guess who was eating sharing corn pudding? My darling Widdle. Normally he casts a suspicious eye over my kitchen while walking the other way, but not today, Satan!

Calm and serene, I casually asked, “Does this taste good?”

He shrugged, swallowed, and said, “Not bad.

You all. Really?

“NOT BAD?” I screamed. “It’s a culinary triumph! It makes up for YEARS of burnt rice and raw chicken!”

“If you say so,” he said.

Then he looked at my face and started backing away. I mean literally, he backed off.

“Actually,” he said, “It’s delicious. I’m so impressed. You’re so beautiful. Will you let me live?”

Do you know what I did? I shrugged. And growled. Let him chew that.

Julie R. Smith, whose corn casserole was a hit at the river, can be reached at [email protected]


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