Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mr Lavender Corn Tortilla Man

I think it is a truism that the first step in healing yourself is to admit to your shortcomings. Number 137 on my list is the fact that I can't stand to waste food. Case and point today: what will undoubtedly become the Great Lavender Corn Taco incident of 2010. What started out as an attempt at winning brownie points with the kids giving them one of their favorite meals, turns into them being re-exposed to one of my many psychological weak spots. OK, I freely admit to obsessing about using up the 60 Easter eggs we colored (it takes a lot of self control for me to throw out the cracked ones, even after discovering the fissure 1 week after they were boiled). I will eat any orphaned foodstuff that others turn their noses up to. But tonight was exceptional.

It was 5:00, dinnertime looming with nothing defrosting and the probability of a prepackaged meal for each individual in the house looming with it. The stroke of luck was that Linda had to go to the market. A storefull of possibilities; endless choices; all the healthy; all the decadent; all the PRESSURE! My mind was a blank. Needed to be quick, easy and something the kids would eat at least; bow with loving servitude if I got it right. Chop meat was mentioned and the idea was clear and perfect: Tacos! The quintessential quick meal that would not only bring me adoring fans; but is even technically not a prepackaged food; it could even be considered healthy (if I could only get them to put lettuce on them).

Linda prepared the short list: 2 lb chop meat; packaged shredded cheese; Newman's Own Pineapple Salsa for dad (THE best jar salsa on the market; with the added benefit that no kids will touch it!); something missing...hmmm, oh, TACO mix. "I think we have that Lin, in fact I'm sure of it!" My certainty was because I have moved packages of taco meal package at least twice lateley and I found them on the bottom shelf: two meal packages and a spare dozen, for a total of 36 Blue Corn Taco's...this meal could be epic...they were even Organic, even Livie on a GF/CF diet could partake. I opened one of the packages just to make sure all ingredients were there: tacos, mix, even a packet of salsa. Hmmm, the tacos had kind of a weird stale smell to them, I attributed it the... blue...corn-ness of them. Ah well, "Yea Lin, we're good, get going!"

While she was away, I prepared for a fast turnaround, got the pan ready, tore up the lettuce and squeezed out the salsa. Hey wait, salsa really shouldn't be brown, it really has a strange taste. Well that must be of it, besides, I'm the only salsa eater in the house and NOPS is also on the way. Linda walks in the door, I turn the heat on the pan and by the time I take it out of the bag and package, the chop meat is sizzling and browning. Once browned, the mix and water goes in and the mix goes in...with the consistancy of bullion cubes. But it dissolves easily and 10 minutes later, we have culinary perfection.

Last is the shells themselves; I fire up the toaster oven and open up the 24 beauties with 12 unopened in the bullpen as backup just in case it goes really really well. Well, putting them in, I notice that they are not that dark purply blue I usually attribute to the standard blue corn tortilla; they are more a tinged dark grey. As they warm, it's clear that the color, and probable freshness are in serious doubt. I hope and pray that the 5 minutes will transform them from just slightly stale to decent, edible shells. DING, they are out, now they are lighter grey, with a pleasant lavender coloring with spots of light brown. My appeals to the Almighty are more fervent now.

In my defense, everything ELSE is fine: the meat is flavorful and near normal; all the condiments, save my resin colored salsa in a tube, are fresh and delicious. But somehow the shell is a key piece in this meal; Aly gets through her first taco before she realizes; Dillan, gets about 2/3rds through, before questioning the emperor's outfit. "I'm not really liking these shells." he tentatively says. That's it, the insurrection begins. Jason immediately spits out his first mouthful and say "I'm gonna be SICK." "Bill, I THINK these things have been in the closet for more than a YEAR." Linda says. "Hey, they AREN'T a year old," I defend. The date on the side of the box says April 25th 2009. If that's the manufacturer's date, the are clearly NOT a year old." I'm stubbornly putting together my 3rd one, not enjoying it mind you, but they are not THAT horrible. the kids look at Linda. "Can we put the meat on the Tostitos chips?" they say, almost in unison.

I'm left to consume 18 shells of questionable edibility. Mercifully, two are broken. I think I got to the top 10 before finally giving up and relenting that they are indeed horrible. The table was treated to yet another telling of the Great Amaranth O's Incident of 2005. During our initial introduction into the gluten/casein free diet world, we needed a substitute for Cherrios. Searching the internet, Linda found a visually perfect match. Unfortunately, while the cereal matched the Cherrio to an 'O'; the taste matched the box more closely. But given it's incredible nutritional value (and price); I proceeded to try and eat the four boxes she bought. I got through 1 1/2 boxes before Lin put me out of my misery and threw them out before I could protest.

So that is the first of my 12 steps to recovery; the picture above was one of several cathartic exercises (created by Aly, allowed by me). I also created several sculptures with the remaining 10 shells. As a final commitment to my recovery, I also took out the last package of shells and smashed them on my forehead (I do admit to having some trepidations, because the date on the package was 1 month later than the packages I had opened). Of course I will have my Hard boiled egg on an English muffin for breakfast and egg salad for lunch, but I assure you that if the egg is too difficult to peel, I...will...throw... itoutwithoutathought. I feel better already

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