I've been checking in on the puppy, Francie, here and there for a few weeks now, and Francie's mistress baked us some brownies recently, as a thanks. I like to cook, but don't really enjoy baking, and even though I'm pretty good at following directions, I have difficulty with brownies. So this was a nice surprise.
I called Glen to tell him, since he is a big fan of sweets. "Big fan" is an understatement, actually: Glen is king of the sweets. He's Canadian, which, at least in the area of sweets (and adoration for Queen Elizabeth II), means he's practically British. The British have rotted mouths for a reason: they, too, like their sweets. I'm not sure why Canadian teeth haven't all collectively rotted out of the heads of their Canadian owners in the same fashion, but that's worth exploring another day. Whenever we visit Canada, or a Canadian visitor stays here, we acquire sweet treats: confections, and chocolate bars, and sugared covered nuts. For awhile, we were even getting home-baked goods: the Canadian Butter Tart (which is also worthy of its own post), which Glen finally started preparing here in our Trenton home, with imported tart shells. Glen could take over the world with his Butter Tarts — he brought them to a party on Saturday night, and they were devoured...DE-FRIGGING-VOURED. You know who you are...and yes, I think you might follow Glen to the ends of the earth, if he were promising Tarts.
Anyway, his response was surprisingly less-than-enthusiastic when I told him about the plate of delicious brownies awaiting him. I could hear it in his tone. Not only did I hear disappointment, I heard angry bitterness.
"What is wrong?!" I asked, probably with an expletive or two thrown in, for emphasis. I was just so gleeful about the brownies, and he was raining on my parade, and I didn't like that.
He answered, "Why do people ruin perfectly good brownies by putting walnuts in them?" he replied, also with an expletive or two.
"There are no nuts in these brownies," I said. "Why would you assume that there were nuts in them?"
This did not calm him down. He said — with an moral imperative, "Oh. I bet they have raisins in them then."
"Raisins?! Are you out of your mind? No one puts RAISINS in brownies!!" I said, again, probably with PG-13 language.
"Yes they do," Glen hissed. "The do ALL THE TIME. And nuts too. I hate it! I hate that people ruin perfectly good treats with nuts and raisins."
For the record, I don't hate nuts or raisins, but I do prefer the brownie (and the chocolate chip cookie) sans nuts (and raisins).
So this led to a debate/conversation about how often bakers use nuts and/or raisins in brownies and cookies, and unless I'm incredibly disconnected, I have NEVER...not once...encountered a raisin in a brownie. So I'm thinking this might be a regional thing. Maybe it happens in Canada. Still, I have NO idea why it makes Glen so mad, especially since brownies ARE abundantly available in a pure state. So, if there are any bakers out there who might be tempted to slip some nuts, or God forbid, some raisins into your baked goods, please reconsider, if only for my sake. Okay, and Glen's too. Your actions are evoking an incredible amount of ill-will from my husband, and frankly, I think he has better things to focus on. And, plus, there are so many things about the universe we do not yet understand, and I just think it's for the best if you don't have Glen's negative vibes headed your way.
Anyway, he was so geared up about all the other people in the world out their ruining perfectly good brownies, that I'm quite sure he did not truly enjoy the ones we received from Francie's owner. But that's okay. More for me. I loved them!
Later that evening, we sat out on our front porch, and noticed quite a few of our Latino neighbors walking to a house up the street, carrying large pots and trays of food. I mention their ethnicity only because I hope to follow up on this, later in the week. I will admit, I looked at those pots and trays longingly, since, after our long day, we had grilled cheese (and brownies) for dinner, which, don't get me wrong, was delicious...sometimes there's nothing like grilled cheese, right? But I knew, instinctively, that grilled cheese could not compare to anything in those vessels that were entering our neighbor's house.
Glen spoke first, in a whisper:
"Do you see all those pots of food?"
"Yes," I said.
"We're going to their party. I want that food," he said.
"But you don't even know what it is," I said.
"I know. But I know it's gotta be good. People bring their best dishes to a party."
"I know," I said.
"I can smell it," he said, "and it smells delicious."
"No you don't," I said. "You can't smell it at all."
"Shhh. I'm imagining it," he said.
Later that week, inspired by our pots-of-food-toting Latino neighbors, I made some pretty damn good burritos, if I do say so myself: chicken burritos, with good Canadian cheddar cheese, made with (purchased) handmade flour tortillas. I whipped up a pot of rice, too, and since we were having guests (Francie and her mistress), I wanted it to be special, so I added some cilantro and lime wedges during the final stages of cooking.
Glen, who was enjoying his burritos— with abandon, I might add — took offense at the "fruit in the rice" (with expletives studding his disgust not unlike the the limes in my rice), and I, of course, do not like having my meals criticized, especially after some effort, so I plotted revenge. Which is — and I think Glen will even admit — outside of my character. It was scary, and thrilling, to fantasize about getting him back. It was just rice with lime and cilantro thrown in; I could have tossed it. But no, the voice in my head said, "freeze it." And before I could debate the voice in my head, my hand was reaching for the storage containers.
A few days later, we had Indian food — more or less homemade, though I did use a (Canadian) store-bought sauce, and added paneer (Indian cheese), spinach, and some spices. It too, was quite yummy. And, bonus — there were leftovers, as there are almost always leftovers when cooking for two. I remembered the lime rice in the freezer. Cilantro and lime go so well with aromatic Indian food, which is really nice on a rice base. I fetched the rice, plucked out all of the obvious bits of citrus, and poured some of our leftover Indian food on it, and packed it back up again for Glen's lunch the next day.
I felt guilt. And giddiness. I am bad at keeping secrets from Glen. Really bad. But I did it. He is a good man: he called me from work to thank me for packing a delicious lunch for him, and I debated: do I tell him now, or later? Now, or later? I opted for later. I heard the voice of my grandfather: "Don't ever mess with another person's food. Ever." I wondered if PopPop was rolling in his grave? Sorry, PopPop. I justified it because Glen likes all of those flavors, in every other way I've ever used them, and there was no reason for his offense at the lime rice. No reason at all, dammit.
I had to level with him, so I told him when he returned from work, and was, again, totally unprepared for his reaction.
He smiled, really big, and said, "It was delicious."
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