Sunday, March 23, 2008

In Which I Prepare Lunch

To preface, I have barely lifted a finger to cook my whole two months here. They have a cousin who comes to help cook and clean about 3 times per week, and I think also G's mom likes to make me food, it's like, fulfilling her purpose or something. Because I've made myself some pasta with ketchup about 2 or 3 times when they were out late and I was hungry, but the last time I was starting the water to boil and they came home and she was like "oh, no no, I bought stuff to make little pizzas, please, let me serve you!" I think especially since her youngest just moved out a few weeks ago she really does like to take care of me.

Sometime last week, G's dad declared that I would cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for the final two days of my stay, that his sister would come for lunch, and that I should prepare a list so we can go grocery shopping the weekend before. I told them I knew how to cook many things, but I was afraid they wouldn't like them. They said not to worry, they would eat anything and it didn't matter if there wasn't any meat, they would be fine. So I agreed, and we went on to have a discussion about the differences in breakfast foods between here and the US. (US tends to favor sweet flavors for the mornings) But it turns out I ended up cooking lunch today.

The story really begins early last evening.

VM, my nephew, was warming up some food in the microwave for the cranky parrot. Unfortunately he miscalculated the time or pressed the wrong buttons or something because it was for way too long and the little plastic food dish and all its contents got seriously shriveled up and the whole apartment smelled horrible. (and the kitchen continued to smell bad even into the morning).

G's mom is pretty allergic to lots of things and very sensitive, not to mention she was the one in the kitchen scrubbing the microwave trying to clean out the smell. Her eyes and nose got really irritated and she was sneezing most of the night. She took an allergy pill but it didn't help. (I'm not really surprised since I think it was more of a chemical irritant than allergic one).

We all woke up pretty late this morning and the poor dear was still feeling pretty wretched and stumbled to the kitchen to make breakfast, but was really only able to prepare coffee with milk and came to my room to apologize that it was just going to be bread and butter for breakfast, even though she had wanted to make other things, and we could try to have an early lunch. I told her not to worry and she went to lie down. After I ate my bread and butter I went to her room and told her that if she needed any help with the food to tell me, and she said that a little later we could see what was left in the kitchen because there wasn't too much.

So after a bit she got up and showed me that there was pasta and a mix to make cream sauce and there was a little bag of mixed asian veggies plus fresh ones and some frozen beans in the freezer. So I made pasta with cream sauce and a few veggies, some other veggies and white beans, and I made some little triangle toast type things out of a flat bread they had that I fried in a little olive oil with garlic powder and salt. I also mixed up a pitcher of raspberry juice out of a bag of frozen pulp and added some sugar.

G's dad came in once to check on me and said it smelled good, and helped me find some lids to the pots. The water didn't really ever get to that rolling boil I'm used to for the pasta unless I kept it covered, so it was actually the last thing I finished, and I set the table while it was cooking, remembering the napkins, (which is kind of a running joke because they ALWAYS forget the napkins) and then served up three plates and said "Listo!" (ready)

G's dad said something about how now they get to see how I cook, and I said I was nervous. But it turned out they liked it! G's mom loved the little breads and wanted me to teach her how to make them. I told her it was super easy, and then how to do it. G's dad declared that next week when I cooked for the they would also invite his sister AND his dad, who would be so amazed that the entire meal didn't have any meat. Then he went on to ask his wife if maybe they should even invite her cousin who they hang out with all the time, and I think also his daughter and her family for the weekend. He asked if I knew how to make soups and when I said yes he said he imagined that G liked them. He also teased that perhaps he would lock me in my room so they could keep me and I should tell G to come here instead, and wasn't it such a pleasant surprise that I knew how to cook. G's mom said she already knew because G and I had made something nice the last time we came, and she asked if anyone wanted the last piece of toast.

She also tried to do the dishes but I wouldn't let her, although I did let her put away the clean ones since I didn't know where they went. She thanked me again, said again that it was really tasty and went to lie down. So I hope she got to have some good rest.

Oh, also, the cranky parrot liked the pasta. He seems to eat anything, but he really likes mango peels and scrambled eggs. He was eyeing me rather woefully as I put the leftover pasta in the fridge, so I gave him a few strands and he started gobbling. I also broke up a saltine and put it in the dish, but he yanked out a couple of the bits that were covering up the pasta and tossed them on the floor like "Screw the crackers! More pasta!" so I got him big forkful and tore it up into smaller strands for easier eating.

All in all I think it was a very successful meal! Now I need to figure out a few menu options for next week, in case I can't find some of the ingredients for the dishes I'm thinking of preparing.

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