#4 Food Glorious Food

It’s not a surprise that much of our shared life revolves around food. The essentials of life for any person becomes the essentials of the life together. And everybody eats and sleeps.

Side note: the only thing more wonderful than an afternoon nap is a shared afternoon nap. Chandler and Joey can back me up on that one.

So food.

The Cake: Our wedding cake was a revelation; I didn’t know wedding cakes were allowed to be anything other than sheet white or sheet chocolate with that pink-flavored frosting. Pam set our marriage on the right track with our three layered (every layer a different flavor) cake decorated with fresh flower petals.

The cake was a symbol of Van’s pre-marital advice, telling us that the traditions/expectations of the typical Western wedding were not Biblical mandates; just traditions. How we arrange the ceremony was between us and God; and as long as we had God looped in, right and wrong were misapplied labels. That is handy to carry in many situations, where tradition/expectation ruled over actual best practice.

Pumpkin Pie: She came into the marriage with a common love of pumpkin pie, but a woefully poor education about pumpkin pie. For example, she didn’t know how many slices are in a pumpkin pie. She even was silly enough to say that it depended on the size of the pie. As all Gaffneys know, that is an irrelevant piece of data. Every pumpkin pie has four slices.

Costco Sizes: Our first real “you aren’t hearing what I’m saying” drag-down fight was over food. It started with me being proud of how much money I saved by buying the cargo ship container size box of ice cream treats from the club store. You know the box, where it is too big to fit in the freezer, so you have to take all the individual items out and pack them around the frozen ground beef and bags of green beans to get them all in.

She wasn’t happy, in part because we wouldn’t save anything if we ate the entire big box in the same amount of time we would normally take to eat a small box. So I said, with the authority of “duh! It’s logic!” that we just shouldn’t eat them all at once and show a little self-control. She said self-control is a lot easier when temptation hasn’t taken up residence in your freezer. And I said be strong, oh weak-willed one. And she said it isn’t about weak or strong, but healthy or unhealthy. And I said it is healthy to be strong. And she said you aren’t hearing me. And I said that I’m proud of my purchase and if she isn’t strong enough to deal with it than too bad, she’ll just have to grow up someday!

And I was so mad that I stressed ate the entire box. So, you know, I won that argument. But for her sake – hers, not mine, of course – I stopped buying the cargo ship container size box of ice cream treats. Mostly.

Kitchen Cupboard Nachos: Sometimes the mistakes in life turn out to be the best things in life. Joel has a treat called “Mistake Cake” – called so because he messed up while baking a cake; an error worthy of being named because the mistake version came out so much better than the recipe version.

For us it wasn’t a mistake as much as poor planning. Dinner time, forgot to get supplies for a meal. Had a bag of corn chips – usually a snack. But if you rummage through the cupboards for what else is left behind, dump it all on top of the chips on a baking sheet, cover with cheese – you get a meal that was then replicated for over a decade in our house.

Seems like every family has a version of this – having a problem, taking what was there and making something better of it. When Mary hosted the family reunion and the pool wasn’t done yet, they turned the large hole in the backyard from a swimming pool to a Reohr-style dodge ball pit. The kids that returned to the house any time after were disappointed that they filled the arena with boring water.

Our house is no different – our memories sparkling with make-do moments that turned out golden. Our cardboard anniversary was celebrated on a table made out of cardboard boxes. Our Christmas tree has been forever replaced by a silver chain stretched along our walls, displaying our decades of collected ornaments. No money birthdays celebrated by hiding dozens of notes around the house – some not found for weeks after. Maybe even a significant anniversary where the big trip is cancelled, so one has to resort to the cheaper (but not without price) series of essays as the big gesture of love.

Mistake cake is often the better cake.

Lots More Food: Turning a Wisconsin trip to see Arianne in Peter Pan into a hunt for Kringle (how better to understand Dave and Debi than finding the treat in the motherland). Hiking miles of English coastline because we know that at the end of the hike there is sure to be a scone with clotted cream (thanks Gil and BJ). Discovering together what animal style is, along with the entire concept of secret menus. Dieting together. Cheating on diets together. Her trying to convince me that spaghetti squash tastes just like pasta (it doesn’t) or that cauliflower pizza crust is the same as dough (it isn’t) or that grapes are just like candy (I’m coming around). Trading pies for haircuts when the price of a haircut made a difference (thank you Ann!). Getting sick on an early date because I didn’t want to admit to this cute chick that the smell of Parmesan cheese makes me nauseous. Calling her favorite cheese dish “Smack baloney and sneeze,” and her expert level eye rolling in response.

Think about how many times food enters into our day. Think about how many opportunities for recalling memories or creating memories that provides. Think about the one that shares your fries, takes a bite of your dessert, makes that one dish maybe not the best, but certainly the most “right.”

Please, sir, I want some more.

{originally posted as part of the countdown to our silver anniversary}

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