Snowman’s school follows each of the first two trimesters with a week of Intensives, classes that are designed to spark the kinds of interests not necessarily met in the regular school program. This fall one of those subjects will be Slow Food. I’m helping arrange for the students to prepare a meal at the soup kitchen downtown. But just talking about Slow Food is affecting our lives at home, too. The past two evenings, Snowman and I have cooked dinner with as little packaged material involved as possible.
Now, the dirty truth is that I am not an enthusiastic cook. If I have a grand expanse of time, I can do pretty well, but on the average busy day, I would just as soon get something out of the freezer or — gasp! — might even suggest Evil Fast Food. But my children are becoming fond of real food, cooked at home, and they nudge me in that direction.
Part of the Slow Food idea is that you should know what is in your food and where it was prepared, or at least that is what Snowman tells me. Last night we made home fries and cheesey scrambled eggs, and tonight it was tuna casserole. We did not resort to Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup as an aid, nor did we give up entirely when we burned the roux the first time around. (Yes, I know some cooking words.)
These meals took a long, long time to prepare, for one reason or another. They were not thrown together. We really enjoyed eating them. They were simple but delicious. It felt good to eat them. They were authentic.
And all this authenticity got me thinking about something that may seem unrelated: the page scandal in Washington and the notion that it is possible to "take the responsibility" for something without actually taking any blame or making any kind of recompense, without being changed in any way. You see, I could say, "I’m cooking a real meal for my family tonight," yet get out a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese with the powdered orange stuff that doesn’t seem like cheese at all. Or I can melt a little butter and stir in some flour, add warm milk and whisk it while it thickens, then stir in grated cheddar and pour it over multigrain pasta and tuna. Both of these things are fixing dinner, but only one is a real meal in which all the components are readily identifiable, and in only one of these cases am I making any kind of effort. And the effort is changing my attitude about what I will cook tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
When Dennis Hastert says he is taking responsibility, it is the Kraft version. He does not intend to sacrifice anything to show that he cares or to actually suffer any loss of time or prestige or power due to his participation in covering up the actions of Mark Foley.
I don’t think he understands that Fast Food apologies are about as good for us as a Big Mac. They get a response from the public taste buds, but all they do in the end is clog the public arteries.