I was nearing the end of another long, tiring day on my feet in the kitchen. I’d started the prep work for this meal more than 24 hours earlier and with the kitchen a total disaster area, the end was not in sight. The aroma that filled the house that had once made my taste buds tingle, now made me want to hurl. I was exhausted, anxious, and regretting ever wanting to undertake such a labor-intensive endeavor. Yep, just another day in the life of this Simply Grateful Housewife.
Grace texted me from school, preparing to head out to dinner with friends, and casually asked how I was. Wrong question. She got a lot more than she wanted in response.
So, how are things going?
If this isn’t the best meal I’ve ever made, I am never cooking again. We can eat out every night from now until eternity!
I’m sure it will be, you worry too much.
So I sent her a picture.
Those look good.
Well it took me more than four hours to make them and I’m still working on sauces.
I’m sure it will be great.
It had better be or I’m NEVER cooking again! We can eat processed everything!
Ok, I understand.
I’m serious. I’ll quit.
Yes, my day had been a bit stressful. Making a new meal can be that way, especially when you’re unsure of how things are going to turn out and your main taste-tester (Grace) is out the house having a life.
Who said she was allowed to have a life anyway? Probably her father, he’s always undermining me in some way or other.
As much as I enjoy making new meals, typically I pick ones that I’ve tasted at one time or other. Not this particular day, not this particular meal. No one in our house had ever tasted it. No one had even considered ordering it off a menu. In fact, no one, besides myself, even had an idea of what this meal consisted of. I saw it on the Food Network (those darn heretics!). I really should smash every television in the house, or at the very least, cancel our cable.
So here I was, spending two days in the kitchen working on a meal that I had no idea what it was supposed to taste like, that no one who I was serving it to had any idea of what to expect, and now the mere smell of it was turning my stomach. Things were definitely not looking good.
I stood at the stove, mixing the ingredients for the final sauce I wanted to try, dreading the moment Hubby would be home and I’d have to start serving. The moment of truth was not something I looked forward to. If I hadn’t invested so much time and effort into this meal, I probably would have just scrapped it and heated up some leftovers. As it was, I pushed on.
When the last of the sauces were done and simmering on the stove, I took a moment and sought refuge on the couch in the great room. The aroma was everywhere so a reprieve from that was not to be found. I’d have snuck out for a walk but Hubby was expected at any moment. At least it would all be over soon.
I heard the groaning of the garage door as Hubby’s car turned into our driveway and he honked his horn so I could let Bell out to greet him. At the door I enjoyed a moment of fresh, cold air before following him into the kitchen where he exclaimed, “Something smells good.” That was a good sign. That was a start.
While Hubby changed from his work clothes and got comfortable, I put the pans of food on the table. I didn’t bother using serving dishes. I already had more than enough dishes to wash, dirtying more just for presentation purposes was not going to happen. I suppose there is some truth in the belief that “it’s all in the presentation” when it comes to how a meal is received, but at this point, I didn’t care. All I wanted was for this dinner to be over so I could clean the kitchen and hopefully rid the house of the aroma Hubby found so wonderful, and I found utterly unbearable.
Sitting in his spot Hubby asked, “So how do I eat this?” I served him, placing everything on his plate and explaining that I had three sauces for him to try. He decided to try the sauces one at a time. I then served Zeb and finally gave myself a very moderate portion. Then I waited.
Hubby ate heartily. He put bite after bite into his mouth, with no comment. I sat there, waiting.
Zeb dug in, lopping up the sauce I’d served him, without comment. I watched and waited.
Finally, it was too much. I couldn’t stand it any longer. I broke the silence, “Well???”
Hubby smiled. Yes, he was torturing me. He knew all too well that I was nervous about this meal. He knew I’d been working on it for nearly two days. He knew and yet he continued to drag it out, just to prolong this. Didn’t he realize that the fate of having a home cooked meal EVER again lay solely in his response? Didn’t he know that my very future as a housewife was at stake?
Of course he did. We’ve been married more than enough years for him to read me the moment I open the back door to let Bell out to greet him. He can tell by the way I stand, the position of my head, the look in my eyes, the tone in my voice — one look and he knows if he should come through the door or run for the hills. Today, as much as I thought the end of the world as I knew it was upon me, he knew everything was going to be fine and took full advantage of it.
Putting his fork down, Hubby covered my hand with his and said, “This is really good.”
Relief? I’m not sure that’s what I felt. At that point all feeling had left my body. I was numb and yet all I wanted to do was cry.
I turned to Zeb, who had not lifted his head from his plate, and asked him what he thought. He grunted a favorable response without missing a bite.
Hubby continued to assure me throughout the meal that it was “excellent” then “really good” and “you can definitely make this again.” That’s always a good indicator as to whether or not he truly likes something or not. Then he said it. The one thing that is the ultimate compliment Hubby will give, “This is definitely ‘company worthy.”
There it was. All my hard work was not for naught. I ate two bites, choking them down, and have to say it was pretty tasty. Hubby and Zeb definitely gave the meal their seal of approval. As for me, I don’t know that I’ll be able to eat a tamale or any Mexican food for that matter again. Just the thought is making my stomach churn.
Still, as much as the process might have been laborious and time-consuming, I do have enough tamales now frozen for two more meals. Three-for-one — not bad in the whole scheme of things. Should you want to give this fairly tedious meal a shot, check out my post at Simply Grateful Cooking for https://simplygratefulcooking.wordpress.com/2016/02/08/roasted-pork-tamales-a-dish-not-to-be-taken-lightly/. The results will definitely not disappoint. Just make sure you set aside enough time to get the job done.
Another Mexican dish to add to my arsenal (for special occasions ONLY), and for this I am —Simply Grateful.