PLATING

Moms. They make breakfast, lunch, and dinner, usually. Unless they are married to chefs or something. So they do it year in and year out until they nearly drop from the sheer ennui of it all. Figure out what to make. Go to the store to get the ingredients. Make the meal. It’s gone in ten minutes. Wash up. Repeat.

It got to the point that I had a repertoire of maybe five meals that I could make without really thinking about it, and then the other two meals were pizza delivery and something family size from the frozen section.

My husband got tired of this. Honestly, so did I. Eureka! Subscription food boxes: three really interesting and delicious meals that come with all the ingredients, and easy instructions for cooking.

They also come with a recipe card. On the front of the card is a photo of the final result of the meal you are making. It is very obvious to me that the photos are taken by a food stylist, and nobody on their subscription list actually ends up with their dinner looking even remotely like the photo.

I made about 6 months of the food boxes, cooking them up and schlepping them on the plates haphazardly.  Enter my husband. Professional accordionist. Handyman. Person that follows every single direction to the letter, and who has never experienced assembling an Ikea bookcase with bolts and screws left over.He took over the cooking. That sounds good, but in truth, I decided enough was enough, and he took over the cooking.

I don’t have any photos to show you, because I eat my dinner; I don’t use it as a photo op. But trust me. Plating is Charlie’s forte. The dinner might get cold, but dammit, he takes the time to arrange it carefully, using the picture on the recipe card as the guide. Every carrot, sprig of parsley, and sprinkle of cheese is PLACED.

Dinners around here are works of art.

Last night, we had friends over. I made a sort of complicated recipe that fell outside the purview of the subscription boxes. It involved many ingredients, fresh herbs, and a crockpot. It smelled pretty appetizing. When it came time to serve, I dove into the crockpot with a large spoon, dealt one piece of chicken, some potatoes, carrots, shallots and broth onto each plate, and put it on the table.

The plates looked like something served in the sketchy pub that Cosette’s guardians ran in Les Miserables. A pile of boiled meat surrounded by chunks of vegs, a pool of broth seeping out from beneath.

The guests, who are extremely decent people, ignored what their dinners looked like. They ate the food, exclaiming periodically, “This is really good. Can you go get some salt and pepper? And are there any more dinner rolls?” I got the dinner rolls from a bakery.

My husband said nothing. He did raise his eyebrows when I set his plate down in front of him. He also had thirds on the dinner rolls.

After our guests left and we were cleaning up, he shoveled the remains of the plates into the trash and said, “Maybe next time, you could save out a few sprigs of parsley to drape over the chicken?”

I replied, “I have an idea. Let’s get rid of the crockpot. It boils everything.”

His eyes widened. “You are blaming the crockpot?’

I rest my case. From now on, I make only:

  • Sandwiches
  • Oatmeal, which is supposed to look awful
  • Soup out of a can, which always comes out looking the same
  • Salad (however, I need to perfect dressing, because mine always tastes astringent)
  • Cereal
  • Toast
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Popcorn
  • Turkey or chicken potpies with baked potatoes, because nobody can ruin the cuteness of a little pie next to a potato.

Charlie is making dinner tonight. I am not sure whether he will use sprigs of parsley or kale as garnish.

 

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