Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dog Barf

Mark got himself in trouble a couple of weeks ago.

I tried a new recipe: pasta with arugula and parsley cream sauce.

Now I like arugula in salads, so I thought, "Hey, why not be adventurous?" I am a fool.

First, in accordance with the recipe, I went outside and picked a handful of Mark's arugula. Now the recipe called for a bunch, so I felt that with only 5 or so leaves, I was really skimping. It also called for four sprigs of parsley, so I dutifully picked those as well.

Back inside, I washed and dried each leaf, then chopped them up fine and put them in the blender. I put in a cup of my precious homemade sour cream and another 1/3 cup of goat and feta cheeses and pureed it all together for a nice, springy, Easter green sauce. I have to admit: it smelled funny, but I decided to trust my sense of adventure. "It smells woodsy and earthy," I told myself.

I boiled the pasta, thinking, "Oh boy, this is going to be gourmet." (Note to self: If you start having delusions of gourmet about a given dish, it might be best just to throw it out preemptively.) I drained the pasta and sprayed it with cold water. One of my nicest serving bowls appeared perfect to showcase this spring green pasta wizardry: two-tone cornflower and sky blue, and set the table. Congratulated myself on getting adventurous in the kitchen, on feeding healthful food to my family, and on using the food in our garden. I poured the "earthy" sauce onto the pasta and mixed it together in that beautiful blue bowl.

Burgundy came into the kitchen; I speared a piece of pasta and said, "Taste it!" with a big grin. Burgundy grinned back; she's learned to trust my cooking. After all, how many times have I said, "I know! It sounds awful, but just try it." Without trusting me, she'd never have had buttermilk pie. Zucchini bread. Peanut butter and honey.  I held the fork between us, smiling happily, flush with the accomplishment of a new dish, fresh from our yard and my labors. She sniffed the fusilli and immediately, involuntarily assumed her Careful Face. "I know," I said. "It smells funny; just try it."

Ever the obedient child, Burgundy opened her mouth and gingerly took the fusilli from the fork. Her eyes widened, her head tilted to one side, then the other. The Careful Face prevented me from determining whether these were signs of surprised delight or surprised disgust. I decided to walk the line: "It's not bad, is it?" She shook her head and swallowed. "See? It's maybe not something I'd make again; I mean, it's not delicious, but it's a passable meal." Her sweet smile and affirmative nod, eyes still wide, should have told me everything. Unfortunately, I lay in the grips of my own inflated ego. I ate another piece myself and waggled my eyebrows. Burgundy excused herself to do algebra. Another clue.

About that time, Mark came home from work. Sauntered in, smiling innocently, and kissed my cheek. "What's for dinner?" I grinned and told him about my awesome arugula-sour cream-goat-cheese-and-feta pasta. "Arugula?" he said timidly?

"Yeah, smell!" I said, and thrust the bowl under his nose. He inhaled deeply, recoiled sharply, and didn't even try to hide his disgust. Count on Mark for honesty. "I know, It smells funny, but it really tastes okay, honest!" Unfortunately, Mark trusts me in the kitchen as much as Burgundy does, and I still suffered under my delusions of culinary grandeur. "Here, try it," I said, holding out another lone noodle on the end of the fork. He looked at me, looked at the fork.

"Um." He looked back at me and sniffed the concoction again. "Well, there's always Casa Ole." Casa Ole is our go-to crap food. Everything is smothered in cheese, lard, and corn syrup. It's awful and awesome and a threat and fun. He leaned forward, took the fusilli between his teeth, and pulled it into his mouth. I waited; he chewed. Swallowed. "Hmm," he said, looking at my hopeful face, "uh, how about Casa Ole tonight?"

I admitted defeat. Suddenly I knew the dish really was that bad, and I had tormented my child and my own stomach in hopes of its salvation. Burgundy, who'd come back in to watch Mark taste it, heaved a long sigh of relief and punctuated it with, "Oh thank God." I suppressed a self-conscious giggle, and we all prepared to leave.

I know. If you're still reading, you're wondering why Mark would be in trouble. Well, honestly, at that point he wasn't. He simply told the truth, and I know the food really was that bad. It's what happened next that really has him in the doghouse.

While Burgundy got ready to leave, I looked at the bowl full of expensive sour cream and cheeses and pasta and said, "God I hate for this to go to waste."

Mark nodded and said, "Mm, yeah. Cost a lot?"

"Just the cheeses and sour cream, but yeah." We both looked mournfully at dinner's lost cause. "I bet the dog would eat it."

Mark looked at me a fraction of a second too long, and then said, "Uh, do you really think he'll want that?" He placed just a little too much emphasis on 'want that'.

"Only one way to find out," I said, and I place the bowl on the floor. Soren immediately began inhaling the green, smelly pasta without even a hint of hesitation. I turned to Mark in triumph. "See? Not a total waste."

Mark looked from me to the dog, who paused to hork a fusilli spiral out of his lungs and transfer it to his stomach. Soren looked up at us warily, as if we might try to take this miracle of deliciousness from him. He bent his head back to the bowl, now half empty.

"Maybe," Mark said, not weighing his words, not considering the punishment he would earn or his impending immortality on this blog, "Maybe we should put him outside on the patio in case he barfs it all up."