October 18/79  Sense and Nonsense

Mother-in-laws are notoriously good cooks. Their efforts are often hailed as ultimate examples of culinary excellence. Many a young marriage has been rent asunder because of the of the husband’s addiction to his mother’s cooking.

After slaving all day in the kitchen, the remark “it doesn’t taste like Mother’s used to” can cause a young wife to commit murder or at the very least, divorce! One wife had endured that remark after almost every meal. Whether it was fish, beef or chicken, her beloved appeared not to enjoy the meals she served.

She was at her wit’s one evening when her husband’s supper went up in a cloud of smoke. He took one bite of the charred mess and spoke the words that cheered her up considerably. “That’s the way Mother’s used to taste!”

Being a mother-in-law can sometimes be pretty frustrating. It is hard to provide “an example of culinary excellence” all the time. In fact the first time my efforts in the kitchen were applauded by a son-in-law, I almost cried….

We were hungry when we arrived at my daughter and her new husband’s basement apartment. To mine and my husband’s delight, they had defrosted some of the most beautiful steaks I had ever seen. “Maybe your mother can show you the right way to cook a steak,” suggested my son-in-law, not unkindly to his wife.

My daughter apologized, “I don’t have a broiler on my stove, Mom, but there’s one on the stove upstairs you can use. I’ll panfry a few steaks down here to save time.”

I discovered too late that the broiler upstairs did not have the kilowatts to properly cook a steak. The sad-looking, gray masses floated in their pan of juices. I stammered excuses as I presented the badly mistreated meat to my daughter. Her pan fried steaks were cooked perfectly. She and my husband devoured them, while I and my son-in-law tackled the ones I had cooked.

“What did I tell you, Hon.” My son-in-law spoke enthusiastically. “Your mother sure knows how to cook a steak!” Mother-in-laws are notoriously good cooks, but we mother-in-laws know that culinary excellence is merely a matter of taste.

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