Cooking School Journal: Third Section: Advanced Preparations

The third section came quick.

It seems like just yesterday that I was lying on the sofa in my patented “approach-avoidance-malaise” begging Joe to call and not call the school to sign me up for this course.

But, alas…

I was slowly stirring on Monday morning getting ready to say goodbye to my sister, Jeff and Grace, who had been visiting for a long weekend, when the answering machine went off bringing me back to reality. “This is Roxanne from the Culinary Institute. I just wanted to remind you that your final tuition installment is due when you arrive to class tonight”.

My first thought was, “Oh. I’m actually paying THEM for this?”

Then I woke up.

Okay. I have to remember to bring my “you’re-not-getting-new-windows-before-Lucy-graduates-from-college” credit card to school tonight.

I turned on my side to Joe, “What’s your schedule today?” I asked in my early morning voice.

“I have to pack. Then I am going to Boca Raton for eight days.”

“Oh. Right. Don’t go.”

“I have to.”

” I know.”

We both got up and began the morning routine: Coffee. Diaper. Cheerios. Juice. Mark and Brian Radio Show. Showers. Teeth. Hair (Uh!). Clothes.

In those two hours, Melinda and Jeff had run five miles, showered, dressed, eaten, packed, checked their e-mail, returned phone calls, played with the kids outside, played with the kids inside, cleaned the guest room, watched the Today Show, gassed up the car, grabbed coffee and returned to load the car. God! They looked great. They were ready to go. They even had snacks packed. That must be what it’s like to have one kid. (As my friend Dave O’ Brien, father of three girls, once said: having one child is not parenting. It’s a hobby.)

Joe and I waved groggily, almost Eeyore-like, as they pulled away.  Jeff yelled from the driver’s side window, “What’s your class tonight?”

‘Umm. I don’t know.”

“Lobster!” my sister yelled from the passenger side. “I saw the syllabus on the bulletin board!”

“It is?” I perked.



I rubbed my hands together as they drove away. I turned to Joe and said clapping, “This is going to be a great day.”

We headed back into the house and back to the grind.

Laundry, laundry, laundry. Dishes, dishes, dishes.

Joe’s packing. The girls and I told him how much we’ll miss him, and then he was gone (I was already trying to precisely remember his last words so that I could tell everyone at his funeral how poignant they were). Meanwhile, I donned the insipid grin and told the kids not to cry because Daddy will call us tonight.hindenburg

Mom arrived just in time to listen to me bitch about how tired I am. Then I left. I was exhausted. The whole hors d’oeuvres debacle, then traveling without Joe, house guests for the weekend, and then he’s gone for eight days, it’s a lot for me.  However, when I walked out the door leaving Mom with my over-tired kids, I forgot it all.

I was starting to get excited. Lobster!

It’s my favorite food on the planet.

Dungeness Crab is the second… and very fresh Atlantic sea scallops are the third.

Of course all of that ranks up there with beef, butter, salt, sugar, Coffee Heath Bar Crunch ice cream, In-n-Out Burgers and Coca-cola.

Lobster meant that it was my birthday. When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait all year. Whether it was at Gladstone’s, The Bellevue (now gone) in Santa Monica, or even “Benihana Delight”, every year somehow  my mother and grandmother scraped together enough cash to give me my birthday lobster. And I loved every last bite.

Even in these days of Kobe Beef, Abalone, Beluga, Sevruga and Osetra… nothing beats a lobster for me. It will always be my decadent treat.

There is nothing like a Maine lobster. It really is the ONLY lobster. I have been lucky enough to eat them in Maine and Cape Cod and get a true sense of the convergence of sweet, brackish, chewy and tender. It’s amazing. Once you have it you may never want to bother ordering anything else again.

I love lobster.

More tomorrow from a much more awake…