Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Glory Days

Forgive me if I seem a little tense.

It’s just that I’ve been out grocery shopping. (Cue collective understanding sigh….)
Yes, I’ve been out hunting and gathering so that the grasshoppers that live with me don’t starve to death. I have told them, particularly the teenage grasshopper, that starvation is unlikely in our semi-affluent suburb; however, she looked at me and repeated, “I’m hungry, and there’s NOTHING to eat.”

Apparently teenagers are not happy to go out the back and graze on herbs anymore.
I pointed out to her (using appropriately dramatic word emphasis and eye rolling, as understood by teenage girls), that there is PLENTY of parsley… the posh variety, not that curly one, and a couple of under ripe passionfruit, continuing that she’d be well advised to check the garden in future before generalising that there is NOTHING to eat.

And when did teenagers even eat at home anyway?
I remember swallowing the contents of my friends and neighbours pantries when there was ‘nothing to eat’ at ‘my house’ (technically my parent’s house, although in my egocentric adolescence I too believed that they were there to serve me just because they brought me into this world and that it was their dying wish to ensure that I was constantly content). And I wasn’t that fussy as to not to check for garden produce, out-dated jars or unusual edibles. In fact, once, I was so hungry that I ate a jar of Vitamin C tablets at Natalie’s house. So (and I did emphasise this to my starving teenager) I DO get it… that’s she HUNGRY. My point was to argue that there was, in fact, SOMETHING to eat.

And I was winning.
Until Brad the Tradie came home from work, opened the fridge, stared at it and said, “Our fridge looks like a Uni student’s”. Hmmm. My angst here existed on several levels. 1. How did BtT even KNOW what a Uni student’s fridge looks like? (unlike myself who has four tertiary qualifications… I would KNOW.) 2. Did he HAVE to say it when the teenager was IN THE FECKING ROOM? And… 3. To make matters worse, my friend Smurfette, who has a full-time job and is coordinating building a house, bloody well cooked white chocolate and raspberry puddings the other night from the Masterchef website. Bugger.

Cue collective sympathy.
Oh alright. I don’t even deserve sympathy. I don’t work, I have a couple of measly things to do each day and then I … could… I suppose… go grocery shopping. Except that I don’t like it. Hang on, let me say that with more emphasis to see if I can wring a little, teensy bit of sympathy out of you…
I don’t LOIKE IT.
We all have to do things we don’t like, you know. (Yes, thanks mum….) So I did it. Not the ‘top-up shop’ or ‘popping in and grabbing a few things’ or even the ‘I’ll grab a smaller-version trolley that holds flowers and baguettes’ shop. The ‘allocate at least half a day, three different supermarkets and don’t forget the eco-bags’ shop. So, I figured that if I was going to go grocery shopping, I may as well put myself in contention for wife and parent of the year awards and … yes… not only write a shopping list, but also… hit some recipe books. Well, not exactly BOOKS, but a couple of Good Taste magazines and my Ipad. Quicker. And I might’ve, you know, browsed the Masterchef site a little.
I’ll spare you the gory details. Except to say that there is a dried sage leaf shortage in my suburb.
Uhuh. I couldn’t believe it either. You know those herb racks where the little buggers are all alphabetically arranged? Three brands. Two supermarkets and a discount produce store. No dried Sage leaves. What to do? I temporarily considered ducking into Bunnings and flogging a handful from the garden section (and yes, I know I should be growing my own Sage, thank you, I’m getting there…). In the end I just substituted Rosemary and still don’t know whether that affected the taste of my Beef & Chorizo Ragout with Crispy Potato Stacks.
And THEN there was Sunday evening’s Masterchef debacle.
If Coles is where a Masterchef shops, then I would kindly like to know in WHICH frigging aisle the maltodextrin and liquid nitrogen are kept. I, based on the success of the Ragout, would like to make Frosty the Snowman demonstrated in the Masterchef finale, complete with yoghurt snow crystals, carrot sorbet and … well… everything. But I can’t, can I? Because I shopped where a Masterchef bloody well shops, and there was no maltodextrin or liquid nitrogen. Even asked the assistant, who, by the way, promises to take you to the exact spot in Coles where your ingredients await. A necessary addition to the modern supermarket because of the crap we now cook. She laughed. Apparently a few people have asked since Sunday.
Which brings me to my point.
My mother (yes, mother, as my father merely tended barbecues and gutted fish caught from the river like other good bogan dads) cooked meat and three veg most nights. Except Friday night, which was ‘special night’ (eg, fish n chips, or my fave, ‘I bought a wok, let’s make homemade Chinese food!’). And except Saturday, which was ‘get it yourself’ night (eg, stay at someone else’s house or make a toasted sandwich). And except Sunday, which was packet soup night (eg, Cream of Mushroom, Chicken Noodle) with sliced white bread (toasted sometimes). But every other night, we had meat and three veg. At 6pm. With a glass of water. Happily. And said ‘thankyou’ afterwards. No dessert. Just the washing up (“wipe the bench too!”), and then settled in to watch The Sullivans or A Country Practice before gleefully skipping off to bed at 8:30pm. I did not eat pomegranates unless they grew close by. Bananas were not $15 a kilo, nor considered a luxury item. Cordial was a luxury item. As were Tim-Tams.
So. When did the bar raise?
I missed it. The glory years of stay-at-home parenting/wife-ing. Where you watched, I don’t know, The Midday show in a housedress, and then trotted off to watch the kids ride their bike home and take them for a fresh apple, at Charlie's down the road, before reciting times tables and opening a packet of sausages for dinner.
That’s it. I want my glory days people.
And there will be no dried sage leaves required.


Glory Days, Bruce Springsteen, 1985.