My wife is at work. While for most people that means that, after rush hour, there will be a fond discussion of the day’s events over dinner. When my wife is at work, sometimes that means that she leaves on her commute Monday morning and returns the following Monday (or…Gulp…the following month). She is a tour director, and she loves her job. My problem is that I love her cooking.
From cioppino to chicken tureen, from quinoa to quail, my wife knows her way around a kitchen.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not entirely helpless. I can cook without setting off the smoke detector (usually). I have been known to make dinner for my wife after a long day; I can grill steaks, chicken and vegetables over propane. I can even make a nice salmon, catfish, or tilapia on the stove (complete with a nice side of leafy greens). I enjoy eating well, and I do have some kitchen capability, I just don’t have the kitchen creativity.
Take this week for example. With my wife busy planning meals and events for a tour group, I was left to plan my own meals. I started with the best of intentions. Monday evening I went shopping on the way home from work. As soon as I got in the house I set to work, prepping a nice filet of cat fish, chanterelle mushrooms and Vietnamese spinach, prepared with sautéed garlic, white wine and ponzu sauce (yes I’m bragging…but hey, it was good). By Tuesday my creativity faltered, and I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to eat, let alone cook. I ended up at Taco Bell, and have felt guilty about that ever since. Wednesday night at least I cooked (sort of), grilled hot dogs.
With the decline in the quality of my meal choices corresponding to the increase in my waist line, I’ve had to evaluate what I’m missing. I believe that my wife is a great cook and meal planner for the same reason that she is an excellent tour director. She is a very creative and well prepared person. The same creativity that is evident on the dinner table is evident on tour. Run out of lemon pepper… the creative cook finds another spice that adds an unexpected flavor to the meal. The restaurant drops the tour group’s reservation…..the creative tour director knows of another which may just add unexpected flavor to the group’s experience.
My wife can plan a tour, keeping a large group of people entertained, engaged, and comfortable. She can memorize facts and turn them into a humorous or moving experience. She can solve problems so that her group never even knew a problem existed; when a road on the route is closed, without missing a beat, she can choose an alternative route and deliver completely different commentary. She plans out routes ahead of time, mapping out the turns and landmarks well in advance of the tour, planning the trip as a chef may plan a menu, honing her commentary as a chef may hone a knife, so that her guests have the best experience possible.
So I married a tour director, now what do I eat? While the meals may be better when she cooks them, when she’s around her creativity and sense of wonder can make even fast food into a banquet.