Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bartholomew's Parents and Cooking

     Bartholomew's parents liked to cook. They liked to cook with fresh vegetables and would often buy organic at the local food coop. They wished they could plant a garden but their backyard was too shady from a giant oak tree and the front yard was really too small to grow much. They helped Aunt Jospehine and Uncle Jeffrey with their garden, and in exchange, received some of the produce.
Both of Bartholomew's parents were good cooks. Father was especially good at developing menues of interesting flavors while Mother was especially good at spicing and flavoring different foods. In all, the meals Bartholomew grew up with were beyond describing. His palette was naturally developed without any work on his part. And this was one of the two sad aspects of his parent's cooking. Bartholomew had developed such a discerning palette, yet he never learned how to cook the foods that he loved to taste. His parents liked cooking so much that they would make meals without Bartholomew's input. Once in awhile, they would invite him to help them cook. But Bartholomew, by that time, had considered cooking a magical experience and felt that he should not be involved. When he was older and his parents were gone, try as he might, he never could discover the right spicing or the right way of cooking food

     Kale is about the blandest food you could imagine. It is also the healthiest – and isn't that ironic? Somehow, Bartholomew's mother would make amazing kale. She would saute it with other items; sometimes nuts, sometimes other vegetables or even berries and jams or chutneys. She was quite inventive. Every time Bartholomew tried to cook kale it was a disaster. Even worse, when Bartholomew cooked kale it was a taste-bud Armageddon.

     The second sad aspect of Bartholomew's parent's cooking is that it eventually lead to their death. Not being able to have a garden in their yard drove Bartholomew's parents batty. There was no way they would chop down the family oak tree, that was planted so many generations ago, to provide sun for gardening, so they became inventive. Bartholomew's parents started harvesting from the neighborhood. If a neighbor wasn't going to eat all the apples on their apple tree, Bartholomew's parents offered to harvest the rest of the apples. They started finding mulberries and raspberries in the parks and along the railroad tracks. They discovered a pear tree in a ravine not far from the house. On any given weekend they would harvest Morrell mushrooms, fruits, berries, spices, nuts or even some greens and vegetables. As the food source became more wild, Bartholomew's meals became even more wild with flavor. Spices would explode in his mouth or, on occasion, they would blend and slowly reveal themselves – a different flavor with every chew. It was a world of discovery that enthralled and scared Bartholomew. How could he ever attain the skills that his parents had? How would his meals ever be even one hundredth as amazing and complex? He dared not even lift a paring knife for fear that his fears would come true – for fear that his parents would find out that he was a food dunce

     It was this thrill of cooking that eventually led Bartholomew's parents to scour the countryside for more wild food. Some days, his parents would be gone from sun-up to sundown wild harvesting. They would come home with boxes of items Bartholomew had never seen or heard of. It was on one of these far flung trips that his parents died.
     Bartholomew is now caught between a world of desire and a world of ineptitude that has been frozen in place by a horrible mistake. He would love to cook amazing food but, cooking amazing food could lead to death. Perhaps he was a good cook. Maybe Bartholomew's failed attempts were him being afraid of the consequences of success. What does one do when one wants to be like one's parents but one is also afraid of being like one's parents?

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