Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Cure for Seasonal Foodie Obsession Disorder

I suffer from seasonal foodie obsession disorder or SFOD.

Last summer when I went to the pick your own produce farm, it started. I’ll began by picking too many strawberries, inducing me to once again consider learning how to make jam. I bought the fancy jam jars and pectin and little hand produced book on how to make jellies and preserves. Then I started reading the recipe and my brain froze up, so I just fed the kids waffles with berries for dinner two nights in a row and used up the excess that way.

The jars sat in the closet next to the jars I bought and forgot about the year before. I promised myself I'd make it up to them the next time I went berry picking.

Then, a friend invited me on an innocent trip to the Amish market I never knew about. Perusing all those freshly cleaned chickens and gorgeous fresh chops, I impulsively purchased enough meat to survive a nuclear winter.

“Sherry? What good is it to purchase fresh meat if we’re just going to freeze it?” My husband asked.

Up to my neck in butcher block paper, I just smiled. “You’ll thank me once you taste it.” I promised as I fired up the grill for a mixed feast of roasted goodies. "Could you taste the difference?" I asked eagerly. "Not really." my husband admitted. The kids shook their heads, but hey, they weren't upset, chops off the grill were awesome. I was certain a steady diet of it would eventually enlighten their palates.

Over the next few weeks, I began scanning those gourmet catalogs from the mail, my eyes lingering over the Bee Hive Pizza Oven Outside Grill and the specially imported knives guaranteed to cut through even bone. My husband found the strategically placed dog eared pages of some on his side of the bed. “Sherr?”

“Well, my birthday’s coming up…just in case you need any ideas.”

We went to the public library and I checked out seventeen different cook books, to try things out. Driving my son home from baseball practice, I discovered NPR’s “The Splendid Table” and a few other radio cooking shows which became my substitute for music in the afternoon. I could feel myself slipping into the obsessive compulsive gourmet cook want-a-be as I filled out the form for my buy one, get five free magazine subscriptions, all of them dealing with food. It began to interfere with regular life, as I now required draconian type silence from my toddlers when the morning shows did their 10 minute cooking spot, and I growled whenever someone switched it from the Food channel.

The local grocery store was no longer sufficient for our family’s daily repast. Shopping for the proper ingredients required three separate visits to get the true staples, one at the specialty shop in the scary strip mall, one in the market only open on Thursday and a special pilgrimage on the freeway to the one store in the tri-state area with the RIGHT basalmic vinegar, saffron, organic eggs and creme fraise. Eventually, my needs could only be met by the outrageously-beyond-all-sense-over-priced gourmet stores where the vegetables are so bright, they're probably hand painted with acrylics at the New York school of Art. Witnessed scrutinizing a clutch of bananas for color, firmness and consistency and pulling off only the acceptable ones to create my own bunch; my family began to feel unease.

What stopped the long skid into bankruptcy that summer was the harsh cold reality of my children. They could humor my fledging steps into multi-hued pasta as long as I covered it with enough olive oil and cheese. They indulged my attempt at rosemary potatoes, as I served grilled pork tenderloin on the side. However, they drew the line at goat cheese wrapped in radicchio and pinned together by a tooth pick with a piece of Italian bacon.

My husband had called home to say he’d be working late when I served this latest elegant creation, thus the kids decided to perform an intervention. They stood there, bowls in hand, armed with spoons and a large box of sugar frosted cereal. The oldest had already poured each child their preferred portion and the second stood ready with the milk. “We’re fixing our own dinner Mom.” They explained.

“But what about my Italian appetizer?”
“You can have it Mom.” The oldest gallantly offered.
“Enjoy.” said his younger brother.

And there I sat, eating smoked goat cheese, wrapped in wilted purple lettuce, pulling off the toothpick to tug at the chewy bacon. After the third appetizer, I conceded that perhaps I had gone too far. Placing the remainder in plastic wrap for their father, I pledged to keep my foodie impulses in check by always ensuring some element of dinner was readily identifiable to children under the age of 12.

“Are you sure?” My second daughter asked, hands on her hips. She always has been a bit of a skeptic.

“I promise.” I nodded meekly. “Please, pass the frosted flakes.”

And I’ve kept that promise throughout the year but then today in the mail, I found a flyer. “Berry Picking starts Tuesday!” Maybe this year, I’ll make my own jam.

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