Caution: Martyr in the Kitchen

Yesterday I did it again. I can’t be helped. After a few weeks of diligent survival cooking, I saw a recipe over at Food on the Food for goat gyros. I love Food on the Food. I love gyros. I had a package of ground goat in the fridge, a cucumber going soft, a vat of plain yogurt and mint growing outside. The stars were aligned.

I mixed and baked and pressed the goat loaf. I diced and salted the cukes, drained the yogurt, minced the mint. I had really intended to just use white flour tortillas to wrap it all up in, but I couldn’t bring myself to put those luscious ingredients on store-bought tortillas. So I made flatbreads. Proofed, divided, rolled, cooked.

I started, wisely, in the afternoon during the 1YO’s nap. I got back at it around 4:00, and by 5:30 I was setting the table, small children notwithstanding. I was even up to date on the dishes. I’d cracked open a beer while I was at it, and I was feeling pretty good.

As smarter people might have predicted, it played out like any other family dinner. Apparently no one had got the memo that I was making a “special” meal. My Man sat down saying “I ate lunch late,” as an advance way of explaining why he wouldn’t eat much. It didn’t really matter what he said, because all I heard was the lack of “Oh my god, you made gyros for dinner!!! Homemade gyros, hip-hip-hooray!” The kids, for their part, wouldn’t touch the meat, let alone the tatziki or (first of the season!) homegrown tomato. They ate the flatbread without comment.

I sat alone in my own world, tasting and remarking in my head. Mmmm, delicious. Pretty crumbly meat, but the flavor’s right on. Oooo, that tatziki’s good. It’ll be even better tomorrow. Bread came out perfect, if I do say so myself. Soft and so wrap-able. And all would be well if that had completed the conversation in my head. But unfortunately there was a rip tide of Bitch Martyr Housewife. No one appreciates me. I try to feed my family wholesome, responsible, delicious food. I cook all day to make something special. No one even notices. No one cares. I work my fingers to the bone. Etc, etc.

Of course, the kids would rather I just fry straight-up patties and serve them with boiled potatoes. 25 minutes. That’s all they ask. Simple, separate, plain foods. And My Man has never been a big food person. He eats to keep from dying of starvation. He tries to get in a ‘thank you, it was good’ at every meal, for my sake, but with the uproar of small kids at the table niceties are often lost in the shuffle.

Which leaves me– passionate eater, indefatigable cook. Setting my higher cooking notions aside to be a ‘mom cook’ has been a long, painful journey. I do have hopes for the future, the 3YO particularly had an incredibly adventurous palette and lust for food at the outset and may well come back around. But for now, my audience is callous. Cooking brilliances fall on deaf ears. Everybody (else) wants plain simple food. They sure as hell didn’t ask me to make gyros. I can hardly hold them responsible for being less than exuberant.

It’s selfish really, the fancy cooking. Selfish under the guise of generous. Which I guess is what turns a good person into a martyr. I’m doing all this for you, so you’d better thank me. Starts with ‘I,’ ends with ‘me.’

Every time I tell myself, ‘This time I won’t be mad. This time I know full well that I’m doing this for me. I will just eat it and enjoy it.’ And every time the Bitch Martyr Rip Tide comes up out of nowhere and cuts my legs out from under me.

No more! I say. Survival cooking from now on. Protein, starch, veg. Leaving time to clean the house, or read a book. No more guilt trips, no more terse looks at the dinner table. No more ranty morning-after blog posts.

Until I find another recipe I just can’t live without.

This time will be different.