I keep thinking about an occasion over our Christmas break that I've been meaning to post about. So here it is (for what it's worth):
We had a great, low-key Christmas. Not a lot of running around and still plenty of good family time. The only thing I felt was missing for me was a break from cooking. It felt like, between holiday baking and fixing goodies, plus regular meal prep, that I was in the kitchen all the time. Even the couple hours I spent Christmas Eve (while my family watched a movie) putting together our Christmas brunch dishes in an effort to avoid the kitchen on Christmas Day didn't work. Sometime in the afternoon of Christmas Day my DH wandered in and saw me hunched over the stove.
"What are you cooking now?" he asked.
"Dessert." I wanted to make sure we had our traditional Grasshopper Pie. It's one of my favorites. It seemed worth the time in the kitchen on Christmas Day. And after all, I reasoned, there's always tomorrow for taking a break. In fact, I became so enamored with the idea of a night off from cooking I began to envision what it would be like. DH and the girls would take me out to dinner - somewhere nice with cloth linens on the tables and wine on the menu. Italian would be perfect. I held this image in my head that evening and through the next night when I found myself in the kitchen yet again, trying to use up our leftover ham bone.
The next afternoon I made my appeal. "Can we please go out for dinner tonight?" I asked.
The kids began jumping up and down, squealing with excitement. "Gyro King! Gyro King!" they shouted. This was followed by a long list of reasons why we should go there, including the fact that they had been wanting to go there for years. [Ahem]
Guess where we went for dinner? A little Greek joint with plain wood tables and a guy behind the counter running a buzzing blade down a suspended slab of lamb, with another guy cooking the cuts of meat over a huge sizzling metal cook top.
I took a spot at a table in the empty "restaurant" and sat back to wait for DH to carry over the trays with our meal. Snow whirled and swirled outside and occasionally the bell over the door rang as a carryout customer entered. We had the place to ourselves.
The meal? How to describe it...picture a large round wooden table with a family of five crowded around it on hard wooden chairs. Stacks of thin paper napkins and bottles of ketchup grace the center of the table. Posters of Greece line the otherwise bare walls. A cook on break sitting with his back against the swinging kitchen door talks on his cell phone.
LMH, Timid Daughter and I split two meals between us. This left me to eat my portion out of an emptied french fry carton, nary a plate (paper or other) in sight. At least I had a straw for drinking out of my can of soda. Onions oozed from my garlic-laden sandwich, grease dripping from the other end. Yes, this was my stupendous dinner out!
What made it all tolerable, laughable even, was how outrageously huge of a departure it was from the meal I had envisioned -- that and watching the Uber-Princess and her father study a collection of Chicago Cow photos while they waited for our meal, hand in hand, standing close together. It was family time. And it was memorable.
Of course I'm still waiting for that nice Italian dinner. And maybe dessert to go with it.