Fondue Me!

I think I’ve mentioned before that I lost my cooking mojo. I used to enjoy cooking and experimenting with ingredients I mispronounced; using the pasta roller and other gadgets that are now in my laundry room cupboards; and buying things that had dust on them and required a price check, they were so rarely purchased by anyone else.

But about two years ago, I lost interest in making meals and I haven’t been able to get into the spirit doing anything in the kitchen other than heating up one of the frozen whole-wheat pizzas we have in our garage freezer from the Spanish class fundraiser. If it wasn’t for the poor, pitiful public schools my kids go to we’d never have anything decent to eat.

In an effort to regain my cooking mojo, I’ve decided to look to my mom. She was such an excellent cook when I was growing up. She was always trying new things and experimenting with crazy ingredients. And once she made a souffle and served it for dinner. That hardly ever happened in the ‘60s in Hubbard, Ohio.

I have a theory about my mom and my entire family and I think we’re actually artists who can’t draw or paint. My mother was an artistic genius in the kitchen. She built cookies that were like little sculptures.  She never crimped a pie crust the same way twice. She used garnish. My sisters and brother are excellent cooks, too. They are all artistic in the kitchen in a methodical, thoughtful way. They make things carefully and beautifully, just like they sew, do crafts, decorate, and entertain.

My sister Reenie’s boyfriend, who used to stay for dinner sometimes, said once, “I love eating at your house. You always have something exotic, like creamed tuna on toast.” We used to laugh at him , but it was true. My mom was always trying new things and it was a rare night that we just had whatever the other families were having for dinner.

The fact that we were a lower-middle class, single-parent family with five kids living in a blue collar neighborhood but yet owned a fondue pot is typical of my mom and her cooking. In the ‘60s, we had fondue for dinner. We would fill the little mod ‘60s Burnt Sienna fondue pot with oil and let it get super hot and then we’d put chunks of beef and green peppers and mushrooms on our little color-coded fondue forks and dip them in the oil, cooking our dinner one bite at a time. This kind of dining experience can only be done by people who are talkative and interesting. Because there’s a lot of waiting around for your little beef chunk to cook. Thankfully, because it was deep fried and not a real great cut of beef, it was chewy, so each bite took a while to get down. While you were chewing, you were loading up your fondue fork with another beef chunk and getting it set up for the oil.

You would think that eating little squares of beef that we individually cooked during the meal would make us super skinny. No, we were always on diets and none of them were the beef-fondue diet.

I really think I need to go the fondue route to jump start my cooking mojo. Heating up a little pot of oil, putting a plate of beef squares on the table, and handing my husband and daughter long, skinny forks might just spur one of them to give me a good slap and get the Bon Appetite magazines out again and get me interested in cooking.

My husband loves to quote Bill Murray in Lost in Translation and say to me, “We need to start eating more like the Japanese.”

I’m just gonna fondue it.

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