Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Graciousness and Good Taste

[This is a continuation of my last blog.] 

I don't mind telling you that I have been in torment over those stupid buns since Thursday.  The neighbour was gone all weekend and while she was away, I just kept stewing about those buns.

Finally, and thankfully, I was able to get her on the phone earlier today.  A great relief because  I was sure when I finished my confession I could return to a life without angst.

So after the customary bit of small talk, I decided the time had come to get down to the business of the buns.  I began by telling my neighbour that I felt awkward and uneasy about something and for that something I felt I must apologize.    

I then went on in great detail about the oil substitution and how the buns tasted so off to me, and it wasn’t a good thing because she had made such a nice meal for us and I fair ruined it by adding to the mix my ‘tainted buns’.

So now the buns were out-ed.  Everything is back to normal.  The tainted buns have been given justification for being tainted. 

What a load off my chest! 

And so, after all that, I wanted her to say as some of my commenters suggested she might say…(i.e. “It’s okay.  Those things can and do happen”.)

But no, that is not what she said.

She said the buns tasted fine to her, and to her husband as well. 

And even her adult son, who is the gourmet of gourmets had given an evaluation of the buns.

The adult son that studies cookbooks like they were exciting novels and in all his spare time evaluates and makes note of the preferred companionships and relationships of spices, oven heat, and cooking time.    

This young man drives his mother to distraction.  He would rather starve to death than eat, if all isn’t perfection.  My neighbour gets quite impatient with his culinary demands.  And he only relinquishes momentarily his study of cookery for a bit of shopping time to buy all the unique items that are a must for his lavish recipes.  And so now, what did the gourmet  say?

He wasn't home the night we had 'the supper', but he ate left-over buns the next morning and said they were perfection.

I am stunned when my neighbour tells me these assessments of the tainted buns.  And then as I frantically review the incongruity of what is in my mind and what my neighbour is telling me, I am even more anxious than before. 

My God, in my mind I thought I just apologized for a grave error.  But maybe I didn’t do that at all.  Maybe what I just did was inform the individuals at the heart of this story that they lack taste-buds sensitive enough to recognize the difference between good and bad food?

A bloody nasty and unfair criticism, considering as how I have a lack of something of greater value than sensitive taste buds. 

Obviously what I lack is graciousness.  Try as I might, I never seem to get it quite right.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

My Dilemma

I’ll tell you my bit of a story and then perhaps you will offer me some advice.

Hub and I were invited out for supper the other night.  That same afternoon I made some buns, so I brought a dozen for our hostess.  She was pleased to have them and I was pleased to bring them. 

I sampled one of the buns before taking them and it was very good.  But during our meal, we each took a bun.  And when eating that bun, I noticed an odd taste that was rather disagreeable.    

I was really dismayed and confused because there are only a few ingredients in buns, and nothing in mine could have been off.  All ingredients were fresh.  I said nothing as I began to think it was my imagination and wondered if anyone else noticed. 

I thought perhaps they had, because no one ate more than one. 

Of course if anything was off I couldn’t depend on Hub to notice.  But I was pretty sure our hostess would.  And perhaps she did, but of course good manners would have prevented her from saying so.

So we had supper and an enjoyable visit with no remarks made about the buns. 

Now the next morning, I ate another of that same batch of buns.  And no, it was not my imagination.  Something in those buns was not right. 

And only then did it come to me that when mixing those buns, rather than using regular cooking oil, which is what I normally use, I substituted olive oil. 

And why shouldn’t I?  It is the lighter taste of olive oil that makes it the preferred oil for salads and other things that are too delicate for heavy cooking oil.   

Now I know olive oil does not keep well but the olive oil I used was fresh.  At least it certainly should have been as I only bought the stuff last week.  At a healthy price, I might add, because I am always sceptical about the trustworthiness of no name and bargain food products – especially when it comes to baking ingredients that don’t keep well. 

But with nothing in those buns untoward except the olive oil, that’s what it had to have been.  (You want me to go taste my olive oil off a spoon?  Nah, I don’t want to do that.  But in sniffing it, it has no stale odour, and surprisingly enough, in a salad it tastes fine.) 

So now, I feel so bad that I took those buns to a special supper given by friends. Especially because in this neighbourhood I have a reputation for being a good cook and that reputation is important to me.

My friend, too, has a reputation for being a fine cook and I know that reputation is very important to her as well.  Between us, this cooking reputation thing is like a silent challenge each time we eat at the other’s home. 

So now, do I tell her what led to my buns tasting off?  Do I just stay quiet and hope she didn’t notice?  She is one of those cooks that under no circumstances would substitute one type of oil for another as I am wont to do. 

Telling her, seems to me like a shaky thing to do, because perhaps she didn’t notice, but guaranteed, if she did, she is not above telling everyone that I brought buns to her house that tasted bloody ‘gawd-awful’. 

And that is a crisis situation.  Cause you know you just can’t have a reputation for being a good cook and then you go and make something ‘gawd-awful’.

What to do, what to do.