Cooking Your Way to a Man's Heart
Ladies, if Cupid has given you
the shaft and hearts and flowers elude you, let me share a tip that
snagged me a first-rate husband.
I don't mean to imply that I had the answer in holy writ from the
beginning. In fact, I stumbled upon the formula while answer the
age-old query, "What's for supper?"
When I met Mr. Snodgrass, he concealed a vast network of secrets. His
mother was a victim of 1950s cookery, which called for regular
servings of industrial-strength mashed potatoes out of a box,
olive-drab canned peas, reconstituted powdered milk, and dispirited
She further stunted her eldest's taste buds by adding slippery,
foul-tasting vitamin drops to his morning Tang.
The Snodgrass household, living far north in Yankeeland's bosom, ate
the stuff women's magazines used to thrive on-orange Jello dotted with
carrot shavings and brown-and-serve rolls from a cellophane package.
These Ozzie-and-Harriet menus were remarkably similar across the land,
but they failed to nurture young Hugh Edwin.
Beset by mornings of grayish-beige oatmeal and mushy Cream of Wheat,
dull jelly sandwiches and celery sticks from a brown paper lunch bag,
and 6 p. m. spreads of salmon cakes, chuck wagon steaks, or tuna
casserole, the poor man barely limped into adulthood.
Years of cooking for himself produced typical bachelor fare-salads,
T-bones, and occasional stir-fry. Real cooking, however, remained the
Giving little thought to the daily fare of his growing-up years, I
accidentally tapped into his cache of longings with the aid of frying
pan, cube steak, and flour.
It has taken years, but I have finally pieced together the details of
this momentous evening and their relation to the poignant tale of
Hugh's childhood cuisine.
On the eve of his first Southern meal, I floured and browned cubed
steak, a sight that failed to pique his interest.
Then I worked up pan crumbs with milk, stirred vigorously, and
returned meat pieces to simmer into fork-tender chunklets.
Served over rice with oil-and-vinegar cole slaw, the entree skewered
him as fimrly to the atlar as Cupid's arrow to a 10-pound Whitman's
After our first shared meal of country-style steak and gravy, the
title of Mrs. Snodgrass was in the bag.
The dear soul was starved for genteel Southern fare, which I learned
to cook the same way most Dixie belles are taught-from watching mom.
Suppers of pot roast and pork chop surprise (one of my specialties)
were his undoing.
In a matter of months, no other contender stood a chance.
Now, when I let work overtax my cooking time, I get subtle hints about
brown gravy, which fills out husbandly fantasies more passionately
than Madonna clad in bustier.
To quell complaints to the management, I turn to the stove and work up
the pan drippings.
This sermon ends with a short homily. If you want to entice a likely
candidate to the jewelry store, stop off at the meat counter, then
master the art of brown gravy. (Recipe on request.)
"Catawba Valley Neighbors,"
January 10, 1993