"It's veal. It probably came from a very depressed calf, can we
just eat in peace? And get LOIB out from under the table!"
I get glares from TOO and BOB but TSWITMLM just smirks.
Oh, you have not met my family; introductions are in order: As
always, there's the Big, Old Brunette (BOB) and her two daughters,
The Step-Daughter I Adore Like She Was My Own (TSDIALSWMO) and
her younger sister, The Other One (TOO) and Her New Beau, (HNB).
A last-minute invitee is My First Wife (MFW) with our only
offspring The Son Who Is Too Much Like Me, (TSWITMLM) and next
to him is, of course, My Mother, Big Sigh (MM,BS) a recent widow. The
Grand Kids X 2 (GKX2), whose mother is TSDIALSWMO are there
Intermittently under the table, on the couch and whining at
the back door is Lucy Our Incontinent Beagle (LOIB) who just loves
MFW much to the annoyance of the BOB and we all have congregated in
Our Little Love Nest (OLLN) for Christmas dinner. Joining us is the BILFM,
a recent widower who is the BOB's brother-in-law from Minneapolis, an
infrequent visitor and a terrific guy.
The fly shop did well this Christmas season, the whole year in
fact and I'm beat from contiguous 60-hour weeks but happy to have
my family here as long as they all behave. In a prior life, I was in the
food service business and after standing on my feet all day at the shop
I find that cooking relaxes me. It also brings out my creative side;
drives me to the other side of my brain, if you will.
"Could somebody let LOIB out?"
Some think that being a fly tyer is creative but it's glorified
factory work. I'm a production fly tyer who annually cranks out 600
dozen flies and they all need to match the original pattern with
precious few variations so there is no creative outlet there.
Researching menus and spending time in front of my stove at OLLN is
a creative outlet I crave. When I cook for my family, I need to be
creative and here's why.
TOO is a militant vegetarian. There are already some ill feelings
between us about my stocking animal parts in the shop as fly tying
materials, but I digress.
Her sister, TSDIALSWMO won't eat cooked tomatoes but fresh ones
are O.K. (or is it the other way around, did I not see her eating a
pizza?), garlic does not agree with the BILFM and the GKX2 will eat
everything they recognize but nothing they don't. The first B in the BOB is
because I cook for her well and often. MM,BS feigns a cholesterol issue
except for ice cream, a sweet that she cannot live without.
Her hunger for sweets is a leftover scar from her battle with
alcohol, (BWA) which she has won triumphantly. I found the hard way
that the BWA is somewhat hereditary so I have had my own issues to
face and my BWA got in the way of a whole lot of living. I love my
family and my BWA was affecting them so I waged my own quite war
because when it came to Martinis I knew my limit but I got drunk
before I got there.
"Can't you hear LOIB whining to get back in? Somebody let her in!"
So I now drink non-alcoholic beer, cook without garlic when the
BILFM is in town, omit cooked tomatoes from the menu (or is it fresh, was
TSDIALSWMO eating a B.L.T. earlier?) and go lightly on the butter when
MM,BS is here. GKX2 kind of fend for themselves and are fairly good eaters
except when TOO is in town and then they become pickier.
Good Eaters are who Foodies like me love to cook for. When TOO
announced earlier this year that for Christmas she was bringing HNB,
my first thought was: "Is he a Good Eater?"
OLLN was getting too crowded and my BWA was rearing its ugly
head, maybe just one real beer? This thought aloud brought a glare
from the BOB. No, we have guests for dinner.
"Push LOIB off of the couch, would you please?"
Back to the GKX2, they were not thrilled to find out from TSWITMLM
that the mushrooms they used to eat are a type of fungi. The word
mushroom is fun to pronounce when you're a little person but the word
fungi is not. Based solely on the pronunciation, mushrooms are now
The salad course went just O.K. TSDIALSWMO picked off the
fresh tomatoes wordlessly; the GKX2 would not eat the mushrooms
after TSWITMLM's fungi comment and the dressing did have a whisper
of garlic but the BILFM did not seem to notice. MM,BS, MFW and the BOB
My Blanquette du Veau with fresh pasta was a disaster. Too
much cream for MM,BS and TOO was livid that I had an innocent calf
slaughtered for a dinner to celebrate the birth of our Lord, an act I
found comforting in an Old Testament kind of way.
"Am I the only one who hears LOIB whining to be let out?"
MFW, a farm girl who followed in her mother's footsteps and
cooked everything to death was never a foodie. She had her own
peculiarities with food; she called them noodles. Fettuccini, linguini,
angel hair and macaroni were never referred to as pasta down on the
farm; they were noodles.
When MFW asked to have the noodles passed to her, TSWITMLM
snickered at his mother's hick-ness and the GKX2 who knew the home
made effort in MM,BS's borrowed serving bowl should be called pasta,
immediately put their forks down. TOO alternated steely glances
between me and HNB who was shoveling in the Veal; he's a Good
One of the GKX2 hopped down off of his chair to let LOIB in and
I noticed that LOIB seemed far too happy to see him. I looked over to see
that he had pasta in one hand, fungi in the other and was feeding
LOIB; she's a good eater, too.
"Stop feeding LOIB!"
Desserts were individual Pannetone bread puddings; a delicious
but questionable menu planning choice. I had forgotten that the
BOB liked neither raisins nor currants, the pudding base had both eggs
and cream so MM,BS was honked off but her mouth was too full to
object. There wasn't a suggestion of garlic in the dessert and the
BILFM was looking a little bloated from the salad dressing but he
devoured his pudding anyway. MFW was puzzled that pie was not served as
it always had been on the farm and why would pudding have bread in it
anyway? I told you, she's not a foodie. Much eye rolling from
TSWITMLM and I whispered to him, "that's why I divorced her."
He quickly reminded me that MFW had her version, which was
this: Ever since Dad was a teenager, he liked to, um ... shop. The
world was his shopping mall and he liked to have many stores to shop
in. Marriage never stopped Dad from shopping around and Dad really
used to like the newer stores that were not brightly lit and had a big
shelf. His mother did not like his Dad shopping around so we needed
to not be together anymore.
Now I happily shop in one store and one store only. Have for 17
O.K. back to dessert where one distant relative was happy but
TOO announced the white flour was poison and for her, dinner was so
over and flounced away from the table.
"Whose shoes is LOIB throwing up on?"
OLLN was turning chaotic and my BWA was raging. Christmas
Day Steelheading on the St. Joe River in Indiana was looking better
Coffee after was no picnic, either. A half-caf here and a de-caf
there and what do you mean you have no green tea? More eye
rolling. Dad, caffeine is so bad for you; it's the only thing TSWITMLM
remembers from his health class.
"Fine, no coffee for me. Would you be happier if I had a Martini?
And get LOIB off of the couch!"
We opened presents after dinner, the GKX2 were dynamos filled
with sugar and laughter the BILFM belched quietly while sitting in my easy
chair. He is a terrific guy. MFW and the BOB sat at opposite ends of the
couch avoiding each other like cats.
The BOB beamed while watching the GKX2 open presents and even
TSWITMLM was in a decent mood although it was hard to tell as he had a
new Ipod clamped over his ears. With a grunt, LOIB finally settled in under
the dining room table.
When there was a lull in the unwrapping process I noticed that
the BILFM was eyeing MM,BS and she was not objecting. Too much
wine? Or maybe the BILFM was not such a terrific guy after all.
The thought of them shopping together made my bile rise.
TOO and HNB were far too cuddly for my comfort level and then
came an announcement that distracted me from the BILFM and
We'll soon have GKX3, thanks to TOO and HNB. I hope one day to
teach our newest GK to fly fish and I hope he's a Good Eater. ~ Joseph Meyer One More Cast Fly Shop