Synonyms: embargo, ban, prohibition, suspension, postponement, stay, stoppage, halt, freeze, standstill, respite
It’s summer, and my teens are in the house, underfoot, most days. I like it this way. Very much. They sleep late, greet me in the morning, sing in the shower, and very occasionally pick up a sock or something.
I love cooking for them. When they’re home for the summer, I can make them huevos rancheros every day. Or soft-scrambled eggs. Or Smitten Kitchen’s incredible currant scones. I like to cook, and I especially like to cook for my kids. It’s as close as I come to feeling like I got this parenting thing down.
I poach a whole organic chicken in a pot weekly. I have a system. After an hour, I remove the fowl from a gently simmering broth of onion, celery, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns, parsley, and thyme. Let it cool. Strip it. Put the bones back in the pot and let it simmer a few more hours under a tight lid. Strain it. Cut a new batch of carrots, celery, onion. Throw in some potatoes, rice, or pasta. Whatever greens I happen to have. Salt. More pepper. More garlic. More thyme, and more parsley. Simmer till tender. Then, I ladle it over a handful of the chopped chicken and smatter it with chopped parsley.
It’s a good soup. And it usually serves us for much of the week.
I work from home in Oakland, but I’m fortunate to have had lunches with friends in the city (San Francisco to the uninitiated) every day this week. Two days ago, as I was getting ready to leave the house, I called up the stairs, “Kids? Kids!”
When I finally got a murmured assent that the beasts were awake, I said, “I’m leaving. The chicken soup should be finished today. Be sure to have the soup for lunch.”
Previous experience has taught me that teens, or at least mine, have some weird aversion to heating up leftovers. So, I was pretty adamant. I hesitated, then said, “Guys? Really. The soup needs to be eaten today. Please, have it for lunch. Which of you will take responsibility for heating it up and serving it?”
“Okay!” I said uncertainly. I tried to sound bright and sunny. “Have the soup! Enjoy your day! See you guys later.”
Yesterday, I discovered the soup untouched in the fridge. I was peeved, but resigned. Sad, but trying not to think about it.
My daughter came downstairs.
It was breakfast, but I didn’t feel much like cooking.
She entered the kitchen and was bustling about. As she passed me, I heard a distinctive plastic rustle. I looked down to behold a Top Ramen package in her hand.
I was filled with frustration, irritation, rage. Rage. Sad to say, yes, that’s all it took.
I cried, “RAMEN!”
She jumped. “What.”
“The… soup!” I blurted. I could barely form words. Indignation stopped my tongue.
“The soup!” I tried again, my eyes bugging out of my head.
Then, I spat the words out in — yes, in an Irish brogue. I always acquire a weird sudden Irish brogue when I’m really mad. Yes, a strange vestige from my mother.
I said in some bizarre sing-song fashion, “There’s a beautiful chicken soup in the refrigerator that you guys didn’t touch. Although I explicitly asked you to have it for lunch yesterday! You’re not having ramen, you’re having my soup!”
Then I flung open the refrigerator door and carted it out, along with the casserole dish of the stripped and chopped chicken. Yes, this takes some time, all of these steps to making a good chicken soup.
I put it on the stove. Heated it up. Got a bowl. Ladled it. Served it.
Then, alone in the kitchen, I took a little nibble of the chicken, feeling chagrined. How old was it, anyway? When had I made it again? I couldn’t remember exactly. My internal clock told me we were one day late. It wasn’t delicious anymore, but it didn’t smell bad. The broth: ditto. Not smelly, certainly. But not yummy, not sparkly. A little… off.
My daughter took a couple of bites of soup.
I felt like a child abuser.
I sighed and said, “Never mind. I don’t think it’s bad, but don’t eat it if you don’t like it.”
Now, I’m on strike. Again. I’ve been here before and never managed to hold the strike longer than a couple of days. We’ll see how it goes this time.