Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bon appetit

It's barely past noon and already, my mouth is watering thinking about dinner tonight. A whole roasted chicken, seasoned with lemon and fresh herbs and basted with butter, with sides of lemon and rosemary flavored rice and fresh seasonal vegetables. There's nothing like a good, home cooked meal on a chilly autumn evening. Except... to call this meal "home cooked" would involve taking an enormous amount of credit for opening and closing the oven and microwave doors.

I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I really haven't cooked since we've been in the U.K. I claim that my issues are all logistical; I can't find any familiar ingredients, I'm completely confused by my celsius-based fan oven, the kitchen does not afford me an easy vantage point to keep an eye on my kids. All of those things are true, of course. But the bottom line is that I'm simply not motivated to cook because it's so damn easy to find good prepared food here. The chicken I'll serve tonight came cleaned, seasoned and shrink-wrapped into a disposable foil pan, with a fresh lemon in its cavity and a pat of butter on top just waiting to melt over the bird once it's in the oven. The rice is in a microwave pack that needs simply to be vented and microwaved for 2 minutes. The vegetables, similarly seasoned and packaged, need just a few minutes of nuking as well. Voila. A "real" meal, and a delicious one to boot. No preservatives or unhealthy ingredients. No mess. No effort. No shame.

Well, all except the last one. I can't help but feel a little ashamed as I rip open our dinner packages each evening. It's not that I aspire to housewifely excellence or anything, nor was I exactly winning any creative meal-making awards back in the States, either. I keep telling myself that I'm shopping, making healthy meal choices and putting them on the table for my family each day. Shouldn't that be enough, especially with all of the ironing I suddenly find myself needing to do around here?

Yes, I do feel a bit guilty that my recipes and cookware sit unused in drawers while my scissors get a heavy workout puncturing plastic wrapping. But I'll find a way to justify my actions and continue to buy the yummy dishes that someone else has already slaved over anyways. It's my one little indulgence here, to not work hard at meal-making while I'm working so hard at everything else. When it's time to head back to the States, I'm sure I'll take my London memories and my dusty, unused Calphalon and return to a life of cooking dinner for my family each night. There are many, many things about that time that I'm already looking forward to. But the dinner thing? Not so much. I think I'll stay here and enjoy my shrink-wrapped chickens for as long as possible, thank you very much.


Blogger Tenille said...

To this mom, who has to cook everything from scatch for her food-allergic daughter... your meal sounds absolutely heavenly! Enjoy, guilt free, for me.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Denzylle said...

You will probably be able to find most of the items you'll need for Thanksgiving dinner in Waitrose and M+S, too.

3:04 PM  
Blogger Liesl said...

I'd love to have access to prepare foods like that, although I'd probably feel a wee bit guilty, too. We do have a Whole Foods that has great prepared foods, but anytime I buy stuff there, I'm reminded why I've heard Whole Foods" referred to as "Whole Paycheck."

Enjoy your dinner :)

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so jealous of your shrink wrap meals..

5:33 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

I am extremely jealous too. Sounds delightful! Enjoy :)

5:40 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Sounds positively divine. Hmm, if we ever do make our way to London, can I count on a nice dinner at your place? My mouth is watering already :-)

2:06 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

As if I needed one more reason to consider a relocation to London. I hate cooking. No guilt, girl, no guilt!

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Steve said...

Curious, does the Guinness come shrink wrapped too?

1:11 AM  
Blogger Lulu said...

I cook everything from scratch, and I don't understand what all the fuss is. It's not rocket science. There are plenty of cookbooks requiring as few as 3 or 4 or 5 ingredients only.

For Pete's sake, and I don't necessarily mean you, as you obviously read the ingredients on those prepared packages, but don't parents want to know what foods they're putting into their children's mouths???!!! Fresh is better no matter how you slice it. . .

5:15 PM  

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