What We Cook When Mom & Dad Are Away

Back in high school, we’d all pile into someone’s car or bike over to T’s house when his parents went away and left him in charge of the house.  T was given a sum of money meant to last the entire time, and that meant he had to buy and cook stuff within that budget.  He also depended on us, his friends, to bring food over or buy him burgers when we went out.

T was a stoner, a great guy, sweet as sugar, brilliant in school, and an all-around generous guy.  His mom was a big drinker–she died when T was at school, crossing a busy street, drunk–and he took things in stride.

At the house, the fridge was filled with Dannon yoghurt, a bunch of flavors, and competition took place for strawberry and apricot.

Music played on the turntable a lot: From Grateful Dead to Grateful Dead.  Maybe a little Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, but just the one album.

The cooking was a hodgepodge–a daring mix of ingredients scrounged from the pantry and whatever someone brought from the supermarket: Ground beef, chicken wings, hot dogs.  Added to that were sauces from scratch along with ketchup, etc.

I think often of T when eating in certain restaurants in a certain city: When the food tastes as if it has been cooked by kids whose parents are out of town, who have a limited budget, and who create tastes to satisfy hunger brought about by being stoned.  It’s what Burroughs said about marijuana: It creates a euphoria that isn’t connected to an experience.

Food tastes better when repetition, skill, rules, and restraint are evident.

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