I live in a neighborhood populated by retirees. Most of them are not far removed from rural Alberta stock. And, can they ever cook. Immediately upon moving here, I began receiving invitations from neighbors who took pity upon the poor guy who had to eat his own cooking wilst awaiting permission from our benign government to import his new wife. Mentioning that my late wife was the world’s greatest cook, and that I hadn’t engaged in the culinary arts for almost forty years seemed to increase the number of invites.
Once Rochelle arrived on the scene, reciprocity became a problem. Her cooking skills are about on a par with mine. We are both learning about cooking, but our culinary education is not taking us down a road that will enable us to return our neighbor’s kindness. As most people age, their doctors prescribe an ever increasing number of pills to control blood pressure, cholesterol and conkus of the bonkus. Rochelle and I resist this slide into a pharmaceutical soup by paying attention to diet and exercise. It means – as Bill Cosby said – learning to re-behave. It is learning to feed oneself in a manner that is low glycemic, low fat, low sodium, high fiber, and high fish oil. This is a major adjustment for one’s tastes because sugar, fat and salt are the things we’ve traditionally relied upon for flavor. Although it sounds a bit radical, the adjustment is really rather painless. However, it is amazing the way that casual mention of what we usually eat or how we prepare it seems to cause the neighbors decline meal invitations.
Just to prove that I’m not a crass ingrate, I’ve even tried taking baked goods to the neighbors. The beer bread wasn’t a hit. It’s heavy – like the German rye baked in stone ovens. It tastes somewhat like San Francisco Sourdough. In other words, it’s different. To any good Alberta redneck, different and not good are synonymous.
So, the difference in lifestyle seems to have resolved the reciprocity issue. It’s not that we don’t want to entertain; it’s just that we don’t know how to make a meal that they’d appreciate. Alas, I suppose that I shall have to return my neighbor’s largesse by offering to take Pizza or Joey’s Only to their place. Company is not coming to my house for dinner.