“Where are you?” I asked back, trying to gauge how much time I had before the 6’4” omnivore I lovingly call my son would be walking through the door.
“Costco,” was the reply. “Dad wants to know if he should pick something up for dinner.”
“Nope. I’ve got it covered. See you when you get home,” I responded.
“OK, but can we eat the minute I get in the door. I’m starving and Dad refuses to take me to Taco Bell.”
“By the way, what are you making?”
“Quiche,” I replied, in a chipper, don’t you dare complain about it, kind of voice. “The chickens have begun laying again and we have an overabundance of eggs in the fridge.”
Actually, I was talking to the wrong person. The kids are fine with quiche. They didn’t grow up in the testosterone generation that their father did. It’s not his fault, I remind myself. He grew up in Wisconsin where a meal isn’t a meal unless it contains bratwurst that’s been boiled in beer, deep fried cheese curds and a jello mold for dessert.
We grew up with different rules about eating. My Italian genitori had a fairly eclectic taste for food. Mom was the master of all things “cucina” and there were very few things Dad wouldn’t eat. We ate steak and chicken and hot dogs but we also ate eggplant parmigiana, vitello tonnato and pasta with zucchini. And there was no saying no. As in “No thank you, I don’t want that” or even worse, “No thanks, I’ve had enough.” If you didn’t have seconds and thirds it meant you didn’t like it and trust me, you didn’t want to go there. We ate our seconds and thirds and we liked it.
As near as I can tell, the Wisconsin version of the Food Rules go something like this.
1. Every meal must have meat in it.
2. Jello is a fruit.
3. Boiling things in beer enhances their taste.
4. Fried is good. Fried with extra grease is better.
5. When in doubt, see rule number 1.
My husband has tried unsuccessfully, to convert me to the Wisconsin version for over 21 years. I’m a stubborn cuss and food is one of the things where I’m just not negotiable. But every now and then, I give in, just to keep the peace.
“What’s for dinner?” he asked hoping that I had changed my mind since they last checked in.
“Quiche,” I said. “But don’t worry, there’s pancetta in it.”
He rolled his eyes in disapproval. Chalk it up to a problem in translation.