When you live with a chef, you face a daily reality of Second-Best Syndrome. This guy takes something that I have to do every day just to keep my kids alive, and he does it a thousand times better.
He is a professional, I get it. But I have watched him cut a hundred onions, saute a dozen different cuts of meat, flip countless over-easy eggs, and like any artist, he makes it look effortless. The surest way to get better is to practice, but I can assure that you that my over-easy eggs are consistent only in that they are not actually over easy.
So I have had to put aside my competitive tendency and accept that try, try again does not apply to me and cutting onions. It has been a consolation to adopt a sort of Rhett Butler attitude about the whole thing and frankly, just not give a damn.
My regular audience is three kids who would eat bricks of cheese for dinner if I let them, who are suspicious of anything that does not immediately resemble a hot dog, and who would probably rather clean toilets than eat cauliflower. My culinary skills count for next to nothing most nights of the week. On so many evenings, I have patiently stirred risotto or roasted squash or sauteed stir-fry, only to have one or all of them refuse to eat, spit food back onto their plates, and occasionally (like this evening, for example), run wailing from the room.
So I do not give a damn, and I cook for me. Chef Matt, bless him, will eat just about anything, although I think he is just relieved to see leftovers in the fridge that he did not have to cook. Aside from the infamous "are-these-boxed-mashed-potatoes" incident in our early years, he has never made negative remarks about my cooking. I cook what I want, then, and do it in my own amateur sort of way.
And every once in a while, the Rhett Butler attitude pays off. My daughter inexplicably loves it when I make shrimp and grits. They all love salmon. And this afternoon, I just about burst with pride when Matt called because he had forgotten to tell me that the shepherd's pie I made yesterday was among the best he has ever had. He ate it for breakfast and thought it was beautiful.
It is comforting for a very mediocre cook like myself to have eaters that are alternately non-discriminating and still growing into their palates. That means I can live with a man who makes Mona Lisas out of a few cloves of garlic and some olive oil, and be assured that there is no comparison taking place. I cook the way I know how and hope that at some tomorrow in the future, I will get the eggs right and the kids will realize that cauliflower is delicious. After all, (she said, amidst sweeping theme music and inspirational gumption to succeed despite the odds) tomorrow is another day.