when all the world becomes a stage thanks to a cranky food bill

I love cooking.

Most every day of the week I’m cooking up something. Sometimes there is a theme to the production- such as cooking up lasagna and fried eggplant when the Godfather marathon is happening on AMC. And other times it’s a coupon clipping excercise where I throw together crabcake sandwiches cause it’s on special.

I have my tried and trues such as chicken livers and garlic mashed. The kids have never known to hate chicken livers, seeing as it has been a part of their diet ever since they were old enough to chew up my LPs. Another regular item on our menu is homemade mac and cheese. Breaded steak and black beans and rice with tostones, that’s a good one. Stuffed peppers. Salmon fettucine. Pressed tomato, spinach and mozzarella sandwiches are a favorite.

Unfortunately, spikes in food prices are intruding on my happy place.

For my lasagna, I’ve always used a wedge of parmesan as the topping. I love its rustic texture, and its pungent kick serves as a welcomed contrast to the toned down blends of ricotta and mozzarella. But that hunk of burning love has fizzled out, thanks to the price of a wedge of parm having tripled since I last met up with the cheese case.

I switched to a grated parmesan which did the job well enough. But still . . .

So now I have a dilemma and it goes like this. I have a Pre-Super Bowl get together the night before the big game. The menu consists of a good many big flavors with the Piece de resistance being some good old fashioned cuban sandwiches. I go with the slow hand loving of a slow cooker while chocking the beast thick with garlic cloves. And then I slice it thinly and with a romantic observance otherwise reserved for kinky hair and slinky get-ups. Once complete, my puppies are to be consumed with that very same uninhibited tongue.

Only now, I have to ask. What of that big fat slab of pork shoulder I’m so used to rubbing down? Am I about to be floored by a price tag that would score me a down payment on a Harley? And if so . . . do I plagiarize the sacred ground of my trusted cubanos by ordering (gasp!) in? There’s a place nearby that makes a solid cuban sandwich, and it would probably come a lot cheaper than my final homemade price tag. It’s not mine but it would suffice with my guest list full of carnivores who have little idea as to what it means to appreciate the fine art of pressed pork and pan de agua swimming in perfect harmony.

Hell, this group wouldn’t know, but I would. And this means a good couple weeks worth of hemming and hawing and combative deliberation with the last good bit of conscience I have going for me. For the love of all things culinary, I cannot imagine trespassing on my most passionate of loving goodnesses.

But the going rate of a food orgasm has left me in a state of mind from which I cannot loose myself, and so I labor as to whether I fake it or scream for real. And I wish to the stars above that the old Queen in that Shakespeare play were not so right when she exclaimed . . .

More matter with less art.


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