Pantry Party

Tonight I’d had it. I was out of steam. Couldn’t summon the inspiration to cook a meal. I was just out of ideas, tired at the idea of conjuring something clever and tasty for my son’s dinner yet again. I’m usually a pretty good cook, and I take some pride in being able to offer my child healthy, home cooked food. He is a fun person to cook for; he’ll try anything, he’s free with honest opinions and so we two make a good culinary pair. My approach, stripped down to the very essentials, involves seasoning or marinating a portion of meat for my son, pulling together some form of lightly cooked vegetable or salad and adding a starch of some sort. Elihu doesn’t prefer time-saving casseroles (the pot-o-glop style of cooking that my near ex and I relied on for years). Elihu doesn’t really care for rice or pasta either, and yet I’ll offer it to him, knowing full well that it is I alone who will polish it off – with so much sauce, butter and salt. (I try to fool myself, joining him in a lone salad, but my current dress size can vouch for the dishes of pasta and rice that I make for him, but consume mostly alone. Not sure why I continue to make them; is it the influence of my mother’s list of must-haves in a proper dinner? Culture? Just an excuse to eat it myself? Something I should address one day, no doubt.) I can make some tasty dinners, and do most every night, but just not today.

It was completely dark out by the time we’d done our chores and had come in the house, laying our books and bags on the big kitchen table. “I’ve had it!” I whined. “I just can’t do it tonight.” Usually supper doesn’t start for another hour yet, but the black of the kitchen windows told me it was time. Elihu suggested we find some munchies and just kinda snack instead. He’d already found the loaf of fresh bread I’d bought earlier in the day and was busy eating out all the soft centers, leaving a pile of round crusts for me. (Like Jack Sprat and his wife, we too have a symbiotic eating relationship – I adore the crusts alone, he does not.) “Let’s just do this” he said. “What?” “You know, just kinda eat what we can find”. Maybe not such a bad idea. I began to forage around in the pantry. I had to offer my growing kid protein, right? Snacking was fine, but what of substance could I add to the picnic? I must have wondered aloud, because Elihu shouted with instant enthusiasm “Spam!” Huh? Spam? That’s silly. Who actually has Spam? We don’t have any Spam. Then I remembered he’d come shopping with me a few days ago, and upon seeing the famous tin he’d recalled the Monty Python bit and had thrown it into the cart. I obliged if only for the humor of the moment. And now, here it was. Spam had become the cornerstone of our impromptu dinner. The rest of our feast consisted of a can of baby corn, a can of sauerkraut, some smoked almonds and bread. Done.

I poured us each a glass of seltzer water, and we sat at the tiny kitchen island munching away happily, with Elihu taking breaks to read from his new favorite book, Charlie Bone. It was such a contented meal. I was able to relax. Dishes would be easy. This was kinda nice.

What a lovely little party from our humble little pantry.

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