In the olden days, when I was a girl growing up in a small country town in South Australia, Friday night was the night the town came alive. In a world before weekend trading and online banking, farmers and fruit growers would make a special trip in to town to do the banking and shopping. The highlight for me was not the quick stop we made at the supermarket, but more the possibility of take-away food.
For my mother, Friday's were the end of a long working week, which meant there was a chance she'd say yes to the suggestion of take-away dinner as a treat. I loved it, I'm a creature of habit (one of those annoying people who scans the menu for fifteen minutes, only to end up ordering the same old same old every time). At 'charcoal chickens' (do you think they spent hours brainstorming the name?) it was always the same, a 'hot pack'. A quarter of chicken, chips and gravy, and maybe a stray carrot or pea here and there.
There was no McDonalds or KFC, actually there was no franchise fast food of any description. In our little country town take-away food meant lining up and and waiting for your hamburger to be cooked from scratch. If it was fish and chips you unrolled the paper at the table, sprinkled the salt and added some vinegar. If it was chicken and chips you ate it out of the container it came in. The whole purpose of take-away food in our house was that there were no dishes and definitely no preparation. A night off.
Everybody feels that way right?
Everyone except G.
My husband somehow manages to turn takeaway food, leftovers, or a quick and easy boiled egg into an occasion. If it's KFC he feels the need to make a salad, if it's fish and chips he's likely to whip up an asian cabbage slaw while throwing in a few extra bits and pieces to cook when he gets home "just hang on while I gently dust these scallops in flour - do we have kosher salt?"
I realized earlier in our relationship while visiting G's parents, that I had no hope of changing him, his condition was hereditary. After arriving back from KFC I was confused to see the tablecloth out and dinnerware fenced in by cutlery. There was a selection of condiments in the middle of the table. G's mother was tossing a salad in the kitchen. I didn't understand, if we have to cut, dice, prepare and then wash the dishes what was the purpase of take-away? The world wasn't making any sense.
It was only the beginning.
Over twelve years of marriage, I've discovered that bacon and eggs are never just bacon and eggs, there is always a trip to the store for freshly squeeze juice, "good" coffee must be sourced, and bread that will ideally still be warm will also make an appearance. Pancakes will often be offered in a couple of different formats. A simple sandwich is never simple. An "easy" roast chicken has to be stuffed with at least seven ingredients, and leaves will be gently plucked from homegrown herbs. Why make something simple when you can consult the gourmet traveler? Why go to the supermarket once a week when you can go every day?
I was chatting to my mother on Skype over the weekend when G walked in to let me know he was heading to the shop for milk. "Do we need anything else?"
There was a quick discussion about dinner and the decision was leftovers. We had chicken curry and lasagna in the refrigerator that needed to be eaten. It was going to be a simple matter of reheating. After getting to bed at 3.30 that morning we were looking forward to a lazy night in front of the telly. Lazy.
Forty five minutes later I found G in the kitchen making guacamole. He was dicing the red onions when I asked what was going on.
"I saw we had olives"
I think that was meant to explain the reason he was now making guacamole from scratch.
"And the haloumi cheese?" I was struggling to make the connection.
"I figured I'd fry it in olive oil, it'll be perfect with the lebanese olives and the baba ganoush.
"The left over curry?"
"We can still do that, I thought I'd just throw a few things together first"
|Those little things above the olives are figlets (delicious with gooey cheese)|
I've missed a few things from the picture but you get the general idea.
The children miss their father very much when he travels.
How about you? Do you serve a salad with take-away pizza?