Tuesday, February 27, 2007


The saucy gourmand

Dinner last night was spaghetti. I like spaghetti, Beloved likes spaghetti, the boys like spaghetti. Spaghetti is cheap, healthy, and so easy to cook even I can't screw it up (although I'm not so good with the quantity thing. We either have too much spaghetti and not enough sauce, or too much sauce, or enough spaghetti and sauce to feed a platoon.) We eat spaghetti for dinner every single week.

So, as I said, dinner last night was spaghetti. Actually, it was spaghettini, because they were sold out of the whole wheat spaghetti. It's okay, I have a modicom of flexibility. I can deal with spaghettini instead of spaghetti - it just takes less time to boil the snot out of it. And even though it was a weeknight, we even had sauce with meat because spaghetti sauce is one of the few foods the ONLY food I ever even think to make in bulk and freeze, like all those magazine articles about organizing your life suggest you ought to do.

We had a salad, too, because I loves me a salad with my spaghetti, but truth be told, the salad was a little on the pathetic side. I only had about a cup of leaves left in the bottom of the box (what, you don't buy your lettuce by the box? It's so much better than the stuff in the bag, I kid you not) so when I tossed on a can of mandarin slices and some almonds, I think the mandarins and almonds outweighed the leafy bits by about two to one.

So we had spaghetti, and salad. I put some pasta in the bowl for Tristan, and gave it a spritz with the Becel non-fat butter substitute (again you laugh, but I'm telling you, that stuff is good!) and cut his spaghettini into manageable bites. It's at this point in the story that I have to make clear the point that nothing even remotely resembling sauce may touch Tristan's pasta. Butter, margarine, and various oil product imposters may be added in small quantities, and parmesan cheese will be added liberally by Tristan himself and ONLY Tristan himself. But for the love of all things holy, do not even attempt to sully his noodles with sauce. This has been the lay of the land in our family since he was old enough to hurl a bowl of pasta right back at the chef, and we've come to an entente (an al dente entente, matter of fact) under which we all can live happily.

Simon, on the other hand, likes his spaghetti sauced. It's messier that way, you know. And frankly, adding a spoonful of sauce to one bowl and a spritz of non-butter substitute to another is not so much of a stretch of my culinary capabilities.

And so we sit down to eat, Beloved and I and even Simon with our proportional bowls filled with noodly, saucy goodness, and Tristan with his bowl of plain pasta. That's when Tristan upset the balance of the universe forever by asking, "Can I have some sauce?"

After a moment of stunned silence, and a few very slow blinks on my part, I stuttered, "Um, sure. You mean, like, on your pasta?"

"Yeah!" he replied brightly. "Sauce! On my pasta!"

Now, it just so happens that yesterday was one of those days that I made enough pasta to feed Outer Mongolia, so I knew there was leftover spaghettini in the collander, should this be some sort of nefarious plot on Tristan's part to get out of eating his dinner. So I put a small spoonful, really more of a dollop, carefully on the pasta in his bowl and brought it back to him. And damn if he didn't eat every last speck of sauce, and ask for more half way through the bowl. And then he finished that off and asked for more pasta and more sauce, and I started scanning the kitchen for hidden cameras, wondering when the ghost of Allan Funt was going to leap out and accost me.

And through it all, Tristan the Notoriously Fussy Eater, the boy who insists YOU pick off the bits of the pizza he doesn't like, including the toppings and the cheese and the sauce, the boy who once barfed up an entire meal because I forced him to eat a single green bean, this boy of mine regaled us throughout the meal with an ongoing Ode to Sauce.

"I love sauce, Mommy! It's really great! Mmmm, it's so good, this sauce. I could eat sauce every day. I really really love sauce, Mommy! It's a little bit great."

Tomorrow, he's getting spaghetti sauce on ham for dinner, and the next night I'm going to whip up some mashed potatoes and roast beef - with sauce. This mothering thing, it's all about going with the flow, and apparently what's flowing is sauce.