Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Difference

I'm still in my pajamas.  It hasn't done me any good.  I feel stifled, bored with myself, yet restless.  The movie I watched wasn't worth my time.  I should really have gone, despite the pouring rain, into Pike Market.  I try to go once in a while to buy fresh salmon.  I like to watch them throw fish.  I like to look at the pretty displays of vegetables and fruit.  I like wandering the overstocked aisles of Sur la Table, trying to guess what half the gadgets do.  Mike encourages me.  Right now, it's the season for Copper River salmon and he wants some, badly.

We've been getting Copper River salmon every year since we had it at a good restaurant in Anchorage about fourteen years ago.  It was wonderful, draped with sliced oranges and drizzled with honey.  Mike has been hooked ever since.  Now, I have to be honest with you.  I like salmon.  I really do.  It's just that I can't tell the difference between Copper River salmon and any other wild salmon.  Okay, as long as I'm being totally honest - I can't even tell it from farm-raised salmon.  Still, ever since I learned that they had to add dye to the farm-raised salmon to make it the color of salmon and not gray, I couldn't bring myself to eat the farm-raised stuff.  How is it that they can still call it salmon if it's not salmon-colored?  Yet, my dull sense of taste can't tell the difference between the good stuff and regular old ordinary salmon.

That's my secret.  I don't have good taste. 

I let Mike season the stew and the chicken fricassee.  He really is a better cook as a result of the taste buds he was born with.  I'm pretty good at baking, but Mike learned to cook from his mom.  Hell, I learned from his mom through him, but that delicate sense of taste just is not there for me. I even found that Nick, at the age of four, was more generous seasoning the spaghetti sauce with basil and oregano and therefore had a better flair for it. 

Last night, we had A Taste of Thai's Peanut Chicken for dinner.  I added grilled chicken, shredded carrots and snow peas, but I overcooked the snow peas.  Then, I forgot and made sticky rice instead of jasmine rice, a difference that matters to Mike.  I see what he means once I'm eating it, but it doesn't really register while I'm cooking.  Still, I warmed to Nick's words after dinner.

"Mom, I don't like the peanut chicken.  I love it!" Then he stretched out and did a jazz hands move.  "You're the best cook in the whole world," he said.  I'll take that.  Sure. 

"Thanks Honey," I said laughing.  I'm the best at putting together a packet of peanut sauce with over-cooked vegetables, pre-cooked chicken and the wrong kind of rice, if you don't count the man on the couch who might have thought to add a little tarragon or some saffron if he'd been cooking.  I have really heard him talk that way, as if I'd be able to detect a minuscule amount of some special spices in the lobster bisque soup he ordered at the Crab Cracker.

To tell you the truth, I don't want to have taste buds that can detect if the tap water is from Lake Huron or from the Lake Superior region.  I have a pretty good sense of smell and that's hell when it comes to changing the cat litter or the eau du Honey Bucket at the Boy Scout Jamboree.  So why would I want to fine tune my taste buds as well?  I can taste a good meal when I'm served one.  To be honest, any time I am served a meal I didn't have to cook myself, I'm pretty much guaranteed to like it.  I'll leave the fine-tuning of the meals to my husband, who, in fact, is too smart to complain when I manage a decent meal, even when it begins in a packet.

So tomorrow, despite the pouring rain, I'll go into Seattle to buy a Copper River salmon for my Mike.  I'll wander the pretty vegetable stands, maybe buy a baguette and some fresh flowers.  I'll probably take some pictures.  I'll wander the aisles of the anarchist bookstore. I might even check-in on Facebook.   Then, I'll come home and bake the salmon with slices of orange and honey or brown sugar with just a touch of salt and paprika sprinkled over the top.  I can, after all distinguish the taste of sugar and salt, my own culinary heritage.  I'll also serve roasted potatoes with Cajun seasoning and butter.  I won't bother to clarify the butter.  Maybe I'll steam some asparagus, though I'll probably overcook it, which is easy to do when you forget to take the lid off the steamer.  And we'll have a nice dinner.  Nick might not be as enthusiastic about this meal since salmon always has a few bones in it, but Mike will really appreciate it.  Mike will never have to know my dirty little secret, that I couldn't tell the difference.  You're not going to tell him, are you?

Thank you for listening, jb

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