What’s For Lunch

A few years ago, I was at the Los Angeles Zoo. The mother in front of me was asking her precocious kid what he wanted for lunch, a hot dog or a hamburger. He said he wanted the French fries. 

“I understand, honey, but what do you want? A hotdog? Or, a hamburger?”

“French Fries, the ones shaped like animals.”

This went on endlessly. It made me appreciate the time when… when I was his age and how good my mother was at her mothering job.

Esther was a hot-to-trot, good-looking Italian woman with barely any patience for her kids. She was boss. She was queen. She never went out without red lipstick and nobody was allowed to touch her hair. Ancestry testing later told me that we were never one hundred percent Italian on that side of the family, and so, it might account for a lot of things we never talked about, except behind her back. She always heard “that,” even if she was three thousand miles away.

Louie, John and I would be sitting on the couch in front of the tv, whispering and snickering. She was upstairs sneaking cigarettes in the bathroom.

“I heard that,” she’d say as she came down the stairs to catch us.

“Okay, kids, let’s grab some lunch. Do you want a hot dog? Yes, or No?”

That was it. If you said “no,” you knew what it meant. Dinner was farther away. These moments make life shapers out of a simple meal.

I am now locked up in the house like everyone else and I don’t know where we are on the curve of the virus.  I do know that we eat what’s here. We don’t bake. The stores have not stocked yeast for weeks. When I go again, which is in fewer trips, “I’m making do.” The ready-made buns are the extraordinarily too soft Kaiser rolls from Walmart. A couple of days in the fridge makes them especially lacking. 

Oh, if only I could slice into a French loaf instead.  I could devour the whole thing.

My galley kitchen which is too tight to do anything. Cat food bowls litter the floor and every time I walk in there, the three cats stand at the refrigerator waiting for something to come out.  I have my wire racks on wheels in my tiny kitchen – more space for the stocked up canned goods I bought earlier for this stay at home order. 

I’m not a cook!  I never really was, not even when my in-laws bought me an all copper kitchen and French cooking lessons to keep their son happy. I gave him all of the copper in the divorce. The rest of my life (after 1985) was more spontaneous and less culinary.

I’m home alone with no place to go. Let’s start with the hot dog. Yes OR No?

Crispy roll solved!  I set the air fryer for 400, push in the time for whenever – it may have taken a couple of minutes. I split the roll in half, put it face down in the fryer.  I cut the dog up into manageable pieces — 20-30 seconds in the microwave.  Done.  All I need is a nice glass of chardonnay as an accompaniment. I’m not driving. I’ll have two. 

Cook’s Confession:
Eat up before part of your dog falls on the floor!
Did you catch that?
Worry not – the cats rescued it before it became tainted by pickled chilis.