There are two main parts to this particular post. The first is about keeping family traditions. I am definitely all for it, and teaching it to my girls. Believing in Santa, Celebrating New Year’s with 12 grapes and coins in your pocket, and all of that. With my own little family, I also like to start my own traditions. Admittedly I haven’t thought of very many yet, but I’m sure some will come to me soon.
Now the second part. My husband is a picky-eater (there’s a connection soon, I promise), and the food critic in the family. So to him, a good meal is when he has a Ratatouille moment. You know, that scene in the movie, when Anton Ego the feared restaurant critic had his flashback?
Well, put simply — that is what he expects of my cooking. Each meal should remind him of his home-cooked food growing up. Now to me, that is a high high high standard, as my in-laws are great at food and have been cooking for ages. I on the other hand, only learned 5 years ago when we got married, and frying pork chops correctly were a feat. And I don’t measure. Talk about compounding pressure to serve a good meal!
Anyway, he wants our kids to have those moments too and to grow up with his favorite meals — baked spaghetti and broken window in particular. I generally don’t have any traditional foods to eat, so I was amenable, albeit nervous. Mind you, it wasn’t just any kind that you buy at Goldilocks or Red Ribbon, but the one that his aunt would make; and only she would actually make it the way he liked it. So now that Sam was two and we were having a little celebration with her friends, he asked me — well, challenged is the better term — to make it “old style”.
My in-laws are the loveliest people in the world (and I sincerely mean that!), and my cousin-in-law and her mom did all they could virtually to ensure I succeeded, but I’d have to say I lost sleep thinking about how to get it “right” (Note: right = husband’s standards). I’m asked to try and re-create a tradition that is not one of my own family. It’s unknown territory, and any mistake or slight variation feels like — sacrilege! Remember, I’m no chef. Talk about pressure (I know now I have performance anxiety): to serve a typical family tradition meal, on my daughter’s 2nd birthday, for our friends who don’t normally eat typical Filipino food.
Days later, I am alive and breathing normally. These are the finished products, and according to husband-the-food-critic, it does taste like his childhood memory birthday food (in spite of me adding my own little twists to it that he does not know of.)
Now it’s a matter of repeating it (successfully) year after year after year… if I can!
The Moral of the Story: Find a rat as cute (and clean) as Remy, and ask him to cook for you.