Just when I start to really love food (I mean real food, not the chips and bridge mix I’ve adored forever) I discover that cookbooks aren’t my friend.
They have beautiful photos and well-thought-out recipes, I bring them home from the library (sorry, authors) and…they don’t appeal to me. Many many many meals revolve around things I’m no longer interested in. Potatoes. Pasta. Pies.
I’m not even denying myself these things; I simply don’t want them any more. And that feels odd. At a recent lunch out, it was no hardship to skip the basketful of warm curvy buns and the herbed rice on my plate and chow down on the salmon and the array of just-crisp carrots, zucchini, and red pepper. I was full, too. Not that that stopped me from enjoying the dark-chocolate mousse.
Now there’s a recipe I could get behind.
The Saint bought a cookbook once, so I know he knows they exist, but it doesn’t occur to him to leaf through it for appealing ideas. He’s always been content to stick with a two-part repertoire. On his nights to cook, I could count on sitting down to either stir-fry over rice or pasta with a tomato-based sauce.
What, I wondered, was he going to do when those were no longer options? Mostly he relied on me to come up with the ideas. Nothing new there, although now he had an excuse.
“I don’t know what you can eat this week,” he tried.
I responded by slapping a frozen chicken breast onto the counter. “And there are lots of vegetables in the fridge,” I said.
He rose to the challenge splendidly.
When I went into the kitchen later, the chicken had been sliced into chunks and was simmering in a tomato sauce with Italian herbs. The Saint’s version of chicken cacciatore, I figured. It smelled divine and I decided I could simply leave the pasta in the pot.
Except the Saint was scooping chopped cabbage into boiling water instead.
I raised my eyebrows.
“We’ll serve the chicken and sauce over the cooked cabbage,” he explained.
Doubt must have been scrawled all over my face, but he calmly put the lid on the pot and said, “It’ll be just like cabbage rolls. You’ll see.”
Here’s the thing: we’ve never made cabbage rolls. We’ve never even eaten them much.
But I’ll tell you right now that, whatever part of Europe you’re fond of, the Saint’s bastardized Chicken Cacciatore Cabbage Unrolls are delicious.
Maybe he should write a cookbook.