I’m not much of a cook.
That doesn’t particularly bother me.
What’s much harder for me to accept is that Michael isn’t either.
I often daydream about calmer, more patient versions of ourselves–in other words, guys who have a grand old time laboring over a hot stove, and never get testy when things go slightly awry.
The reality, sadly, is light years from this ideal.
Yes, we slog our way through a limited repertoire of dishes on a semi-regular basis when we’re in D.C. This includes a stir-fry of chicken and veggies made palatable with the last-minute addition of a Madras curry paste…
…baked chicken coated in honey and Italian breadcrumbs; and a pasta dish involving tuna, mayonnaise and—oh never, mind, you don’t want to know.
Usually we go out to dinner.
Lots of our friends, especially those who don’t own second homes, make a habit of dining at one of the many Best Restaurants around town, the places Michael and I frequent only when we’re trying to make each other feel okay about turning another year older.
I’m always impressed, I always have a lovely time. After all, there’s something heady about eating a sixty dollar piece of meat.
But deep down I always feel the food is wasted on me.
More often we end up at one of the many admittedly lower-tier but much-loved eateries near our apartment. One of the nice things about living in a city is that, with any luck, the place where you live is within walking distance of cuisine from practically every corner of the globe. We’re a prime example of this uniquely urban phenomenon: walk two blocks north from us and you’ve got French; two and half, Tex-Mex; four, Thai; five, Japanese.
Or, if you’re feeling a wee bit weary, just pick up the phone and order Chinese.
This is one of my biggest weaknesses, particularly in cold weather. Just think about it—for a decent tip (we’re talking five to ten dollars here), a perfectly nice man will bring a cooked meal to your door. Yes, it’s true, you have to pay for the food, but you’d also have to pay for it if you cooked it yourself–and it wouldn’t be nearly as good.
Let’s face it, Chinese take-out is a modern-day miracle.
Unlike me, Michael occasionally gets tired of Chinese. “I can’t eat it two nights in a row,” he’ll lament as I’m speed dialing my order for Kung Pao chicken, though he often he gives in at the last minute and shouts “General Tso” just as I’m about to hang up.
In nice weather we occasionally grill chicken breasts or pork chops on our balcony.
Technically we’re not allowed to have a barbeque on our balcony but no one has told us to get rid of it so far, not even the woman on the first floor who gives every indication of disliking us.
Michael is a willing and very capable grill master, partly, I suspect, because this gives him an opportunity to smoke a cigarette or two and contemplate the angular beauty of the cathedral across the street.
In Vieques, our feeding habits are pretty much the same. We’ve tried every notable and several not-so-notable restaurants on the island at least once. Of these, we generally rotate between three or four favorites. If we’re in town for a week, we usually eat at home the first night, then rotate among Veritas, Next Course, Tradewinds, and El Quenepo the other nights.
When we cook at home in Vieques, we keep the fare even simpler than when we cook in D.C., partly because of the heat, but mostly because we just don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking when we’re supposed to be having fun.
Michael usually grills steaks or chicken breasts, and I’ll steam whatever green vegetable I can find (not always an easy task in Vieques).
Sometimes after dinner we drive into Isabel and buy a Dove bar, which we share.
This constitutes a big night on the town.