Disclaimer: Neither the name of the establishment nor its location will be given. It’s not my intention to criticize someone’s start-up, especially if my experience isn’t indicative of how things generally go at this location. And—really, really most importantly—especially since I can’t cook…
Frequent visitors to the blog will know how I feel about cooking. And my kitchen.
Or cooking in any kitchen, really.
Or food prep.
Or food procurement (unless it’s a quick and simple call to one El Caballo Blanco where they’ll hear the distress in my voice and whip up arroz con pollo or a cheesy quesadilla in no time flat and save the fire department one more run for the day).
Frequent visitors are also familiar with my tales of terror when, on occasion (like twice a year), I must throw ingredients together for someone other than myself or the Hubs and pray with every bite they take that no one ends up with food poisoning.
Who has been listening in on everything I say, and no one can convince me otherwise.
Like when I talk about therapy and Facebook offers up ads for mental health apps and continuing education credit classes just in case I happen to be a mental health provider that needs a brush-up in mental-healthy skills. I’m not a mental health professional. I need a team of these types of pros most days. But I, myself? Nope.
Or the time when I complained about trying to keep a plant alive, and Facebook offered up an Amazon add for plant stakes that said, “Grow, Darn It!”, but it didn’t really say “Darn It!”, did it? And I don’t need plant stakes because… no plants. What I possess is a single sprig from a succulent, and I don’t even know if it’s alive anymore. I don’t touch it.
Or this most recent gripe session. About cooking.
Facebook offers cooking classes and delivered-to-your-door, ready-prepared dinners.
And when it blends books with whatever I’m griping about:
When I first glanced at the title, written out in fruits and vegetables, so the “font” wasn’t easy to read as I was scrolling, I thought it said “How Not To Die While Cooking Cookbook.” No subconscious issues going on there at all, right?
But no. It’s 100 plant-based recipes based on Dr. Michael Gregor’s How Not To Die health improvement book.
Uhhh… Facebook is off the mark. Clearly.
Unless... it isn’t. And, given the wonky organic food font, it, too, thought it was offering up The How Not To Die While Cooking Cookbook. In which case it was spot-on the mark.
Anyway, the Hubs and I went to a new-to-us place for lunch, a little diner. Very Midwest. Very… down home. We enjoy other establishments of the same caliber; we were hoping to enjoy this spot as well.
But really, I was game for any solution to lunch that didn’t involve me cooking. Or Facebook inflicting overt—or covert—suggestions.
Here’s how it went:
We’re greeted warmly, Midwest nice, and told to sit wherever we like.
We choose a booth. The table could be cleaner, but hey. My table at home isn’t clean. Cats. Three of them. All of them know they aren’t allowed to be on the table, but, alas, they do not care. We generally eat in the living room anyway (not for this reason, but because the couch is comfier than the wooden dining chairs).
The waiter takes our drink orders. He’s super nice, very smiley. Very young. Not child labor laws young, but young. I’m thinking this may be a family-owned deal.
That, or my idea of young isn’t as young as it used to be (funny how other people’s age adjectives change as you age: old, young, ancient, middle-aged. All of them depend on where you are, not where the human you’re trying to age is.)
We scan the menu. It’s a diner, so it’s not extensive and very much as expected. Hubs orders biscuits and gravy and scrambled eggs.
I order a Western omelet with home fries.
It doesn’t take long to get our food. Hubs is happy. His food looks as it should—like it came from a kitchen that I’ve never been in.
I’m… not as happy.
My food looks like I cooked it.
Look, I can keep my body and soul together with concoctions from my kitchen, but most of my creations are charred, burnt, scorched, singed, or otherwise not the right color.
My omelet is brown. I make brown omelets.
My home fries are varying shades of gray and taupe. I’ve made similar things in skillets that are now at the bottom of a landfill. The food and the cooking gear.
I think, “Oh, well,” and brush a few more there-before-I-sat-down crumbs from the tabletop and dug into the eggs.
Like how I make them at home.
I switch gears. The home fries have a bit of a… smokiness to them.
Just like mine.
Hubs is halfway through his biscuits before he takes a breath, clearly enjoying food that didn’t look—or taste—like I cooked it.
“How’s yours?” Then he notices. “Those aren’t supposed to look like that, are they?”
“No. But I’m used to it.”
“You want to send it back?”
“No. It’s just… I could do this at home.” I’m chewing the same bite I started with a few moments ago.
“But you didn’t have to cook it.”
“But I could’ve done this dish. This exact dish.”
“But you don’t have to wash the dishes.” He’s trying to be positive.
“What I’m getting at is,” I lower my voice and check over my shoulder. “I could work here. And not just as the dishwasher.” I look around at other diner’s plates. Some are similar to the Hub’s, meaning reasonable. Even good-looking.
Others are like mine.
Like I work here.
Like, if this writing life thing doesn’t work out, and AI takes over my day job-job, then I could work here. Instead of words, I could crank out brown, chewy omelets by the dozens all day long. Just like the one on my plate.
We finish—or attempt to finish—our meal and pay the bill. We tip well; the waiter kid wasn’t the chef, after all.
Will we go back to this little nook?
Nah… not anytime soon. Not as a couple. Hubs can if he wants. I wish them well, though.
Maybe I could send Hubs in as a covert operative, have him order an omelet and bring back a report.
Given time, things may improve.
Or perhaps the chef was having an off day. Maybe he was coming off a long week of chicken sittin’ and had a personal grudge against eggs.
Maybe his professional mental health person was off the week before, garnering continuing education credits from some Facebook ad, and the chef was unable to unload his angst onto an unbiased third party. So he took it out on my omelet. And the home fries.
Maybe his “Grow, Darn It!” (but it didn’t say “Darn It!”, did it?) plant stakes didn’t work on last year’s potato crops, and the home fries were discolored because, well, his thumb is about as green as mine.
But, if things don’t change, I could work there.
If Hubs decides to visit this little diner again, I’ll instead head over to El Caballo Blanco, where they’d never let me set foot in their hallowed kitchen because they’ve heard the desperation in my voice a few too many times.
Even Facebook knows I can’t grow plants—or cook them, either.
Heads up! Starting tomorrow, Trudi the Office Goose will kick things into high gear—because, alongside my cooking, shameless self-promotion turns my insides to mush. Trudi, however, doesn’t blush, doesn’t budge, and flat doesn’t care what others think of her, so she’ll be handling many of the marketing duties for 2024.
She’s declared the last Tuesday of each month to belong to her. Trudi’s Tuesdays. She’ll sport her new wardrobe and highlight a title or cool promo from B.A. Paul… She’ll see you all tomorrow.