Saturday, 16 April 2011

Meals in (laws)

Before I resume the doom and gloom series of posts, which clearly, I am not too good at posting regularly, here is one inspired by a couple of friends.

They wrote about visiting the MIL and being fed. Or not being fed very much in the way of a home-cooked welcoming meal.

My mother was a superb cook, as was her mother before her. Once the Cordon Bleu series of weekly magazines came out in the 1970s, there was no stopping my mum. Bit of a mistake on her part as my father lost total interest in eating out because the meals out were never as good as the ones at home. She was ever after destined to be chained to the cooker and the kitchen sink.

When we became part-time vegetarians, we lapsed when we went to my parents. It just wasn't worth the grief to tell them. But finally we bit the bullet and came out. Needless to state this was not a good thing. It seemed as though my mother felt I was rejecting 30+ years of wonderful cooking, and how they had earned their living (selling bacon, ham and cheese).

We had got to the point where we just did not eat meat or fish any more, and it was futile pretending we did. So after that we were never offered any food when we visited. They had an interesting perspective on hospitality. It was that we should appreciate and eat whatever they, ie she, dished up for us (regardless of what we wanted to eat, or not eat), and when we entertained them, we should cook what they wanted. And it wasn't stuffed peppers with tomato sauce. I didn't cook for them again. In fact they didn't visit again.

For the couple of years that we lived relatively near to them ie one and a half hours drive away, they condescended to make one or two trips. Otherwise for the whole of our married life in the UK, it was our duty to visit them. I smile when I read about people's parents travelling from one end of the country to the other in their seventies and eighties, sometimes driving, sometimes taking the train or the 'plane. Mine wouldn't drive for an hour and a half to visit us in their mid sixties. Contrast this with the enthusiasm of the MiL to invite herself to see us.

For the most part, traipsing up and down to see my parents was a drive of approx two and a half hours. Plus a couple of hours there chattering about nothing - invariably about the neighbours' lovely child. Feel the 'we should have been grandparents' digs coming on there? Then another two and a half hours back. The best part of the day gone - and all without food apart from breakfast before we left. Quite honestly, after a week at work, that was not the way I wanted to spend half of my precious weekend.

One sunny week, Partner said he would go down and decorate their house, (gratis of course). My mother was panic-stricken. What on earth would she feed him? Anyone would think he had landed from Mars. I patiently went through a list of loads of obvious things. The wonderful onion quiche she used to make. Mushrooms and onions in white wine and parsley. Salad of any and every type. Omelettes. Pasta in tomato sauce. Potatoes Dauphinoise. Cauliflower/broccoli in cheese sauce. Chips!! None of those were hardly difficult for the woman who used to dish up sole georgette, steak soubise, scampi provencale, lamb chops stuffed with kidneys and herbs, pot roast pheasant etc etc etc. And he would cook his own breakfast.

But she didn't cook for him at all. He went to the supermarket, bought in some food, and fended for himself. A couple of evenings, he went to the pub or the take-away and ate out.

One year, he even re-decorated his mother's latest new council flat (also gratis). I descended too. Later. See previous post somewhere, prob the MiL one. The MiL post states that she was not the world's best cook. However, she had gone one better than my mother, she had actually bought a few things in from the supermarket, veggie burgers or nut cutlets or something like that. The sort of thing people buy when they don't know what to cook for you. There wasn't enough to last for however long we were staying and we had to cook for ourselves and buy more later, but I guess it was a gesture. Of sorts.

So I claim the prize. Not just for ready-made or take-away meals provided by in-laws, but no meals at all from either in-laws or parents.

1 comment:

Bren said...

Yep you win the prize though under those circumstances I can see my MIL doing that. Hmmm maybe I will be vegetarian for our next visit just to see what happens :)