Friday, October 22, 2004

We Interrupt This Menu for a Dental Development

John and I are hosting his sister and brother-in-law for dinner tomorrow. We had planned a casual evening where we would start with some tapas, open some wine to have with fresh-from-the-oven pizzas, and close out with a nice cake. That was before he cracked a molar--on a grape, of all things--and commenced a menu change.

John called me from Mike's as I was starting to make him a late dinner of chicken katsudon--a thin cutlet breaded, lightly fried, and drizzled with teriyaki--on a bowl of fluffy short grain rice with a side of vegetables. He broke the news about his broken tooth and I shifted gears; soft food was in order.

When I was a child and wasn't feeling well, my mother would make me a one-bowl meal of soft, almost porridge-y rice with diced vegetables; if I was up to it, she would add some chicken or pork. Although John was perfectly healthy, something like my mom's dish would be easy to chew, but it need not be bland.

In a matter of minutes, the chicken went from cutlet to a pile of pieces the size of a pencil eraser. I sauteed the meat with diced carrots and peas, mixed an equal amount of soy sauce and mirin for the teriyaki, and slowly cooked down the sauce. When John came home, I set down a plate of rice with this mini saute, which he chewed gingerly.

While he carefully ate his dinner, I sketched a new menu for Saturday. The tapas would stay, but the tooth-challenging marcona almonds had to go. I'll make tender cheddar biscuits instead. We'll replace the pizza with curried butternut squash soup and a main course of gnocchi with duck bolognese. And for dessert, a soft lemon cake.

I thought about poor John, chewing on the right side of his mouth, as I shopped for produce today. I chuckled as a thought crossed my mind--maybe this is a sneak peak into our senior years, me cooking up soft food and cutting it into small, manageable pieces for him. But given the odds of finding the one person you want to spend your life with...well, I should be so lucky.

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