Monday, March 30, 2015

Hitting the culinary jackpot ~ my column from Sunday's paper

I had no idea back on May 5, 1974, that I’d hit the culinary lottery, but I did when I married my lovely spouse.
You would never have known it because she was as thin as a reed and could have passed for someone who spent time in one of those malnourished Third World countries. My grandma went as far to say that she looked a little wormy. But even then, that girl could cook.
Long before she learned to drive, she was baking biscuits and frying fritters. Her mom and dad both worked, so rather than snack on sandwiches, she learned to rattle those pots and pans.
Before we married, my grocery bill consisted of a buggy full of tin foil covered dinners that contained crunchy green peas that rolled around the soggy cardboard plate like marbles and some kind of mystery meat. The chicken tasted just like the beef so I never looked to see what kind they were when I went shopping.
When we moved into our trailer, things changed in the fridge. One thing I learned is that that big block of frost at the top of the fridge wasn’t for show and if the unit was defrosted occasionally, I could keep ice cubes up there. Every day was a school day.
Soon after Jilda arrived, the pantry had matching plates. The green mess hall plates I scored at the Army Surplus store were in the garbage and replaced with plates with tiny blue designs around the edges.
We both worked full time, but every evening when we got home she’d go into the kitchen and soon the scents wafting through our tiny tin house made my mouth water.
These days, we love entertaining our friends. At dinner parties, it seems everyone congregates in the kitchen to watch Jilda prepare the food.
I think it’s because the art of cooking and dining involves all the senses. The sounds of celery being chopped, wooden spoon pinging on a pan, and the soft gurgling of soup as it begins to boil are all pleasing to the ears.
I sometimes close my eyes as I eat to experience the different tastes and textures of the food as they blend together harmoniously.
The best meals are visually pleasing. We usually have fresh flowers and candles that make shadows dance on the wall. Our cloth napkins are antiques and soft as silk.
Jilda has a knack for selecting foods that not only taste good, but fit together like a well coordinated outfit. The plates of food often look more like art, which makes them almost too pretty to eat.
Many people love eating in restaurants and I include myself in that group. But for us, it’s a treat. We have friends that eat out almost every night and that is expensive.
For me, it’s rare to find a restaurant with better food than what I routinely eat at home, for a fraction of the price.
I’ve seen stories on TV about people who travel the world looking for that “great food.” By sheer luck back in May 1974 when I hit the culinary lottery, I have to look no further than my dining room table.
Fuschia-colored Flowers


  1. My wife is half Irish and half Italian. Unfortunately she is Irish in the kitchen. On the plus side, her Italian half comes out in other places.

    Nice you found someone so skilled in the kitchen, nice for her that you appreciate it.

    1. Anonymous10:31 PM

      I'm half Jewish & half lazy, so I can feed an army on a moment's notice but I don't want to!!

  2. You have hit the jackpot all the way around with Jilda. You are one lucky guy.

  3. Awe Rick... this was so sweet... I loved reading this. I never learned to cook like this, I was more of a homey cook but I think it would be well worth it to learn... Jilda keeps sounding more and more amazing as I get to know her through you and her blog xox

  4. A loving and enjoyable post! Rick, you're a fortunate man. The kids and I never knew what Norma would stagger out of the kitchen with, but they grew up strong and healthy and moved out all over this great country. I still marvel at the mystery of her cooking but she won't let me help. I take her out to dinner often as a reward for her many years of confusing diligence.

  5. You are blessed to have such a good cook for a wife. Sounds like she loves what she does too. Eating out is expensive, I don't know how so many do it. A good home cooked meal is wonderful and much better for you too.

  6. You are an incredibly fortunate man, and wise enough to know it.

  7. Not only in the culinary world, but that girl is easy on the eyes. Yes you won the Lottery a couple ways.
    What a sweet tribute, could pass for prose.. It was truly an enjoyable read. Thanks and Hugs to a sweet lady to put up with a guitar picker.

  8. What a wonderful tribute to your wife. She obviously loves to cook and you love what she makes and it sounds healthy.

  9. What a nice tribute to your lovely wife. I hope some of her skills have rubbed off on you so you can give her a break in the kitchen once in a while. :-)


  10. You're lucky indeed Me too I have a husband who is a fantastic cook


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