Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Food network.

Here’s a fact: I prepare victuals for at least ten living things every day. I am not counting any squirrels, skunks, opossums or raccoons who might be benefiting from outdoor feedings; let’s call them collateral consumers.

Here’s another fact: only one of them shows any enthusiasm about my food preparation. Depressing but true.

The enthused party certainly isn’t me. As I have mentioned before, I have a strange relationship with food. I can think about it, I can prepare it, or I can eat it, but I cannot do all three. By the time I have thought of what to make for dinner, purchased the ingredients, crammed them into our piteous storage space, tugged them out again, cooked them in some appropriate manner and delivered them to the table, I am so done with this meal I don’t want to eat it. I want to check it off my “to-do” list, bury it, and sow the ground with salt. Also, what with my not having much of a sense of smell, I have virtually no sense of taste. This means I define most foods as either a) appealingly crunchy, or b) could be crunchier. I think you could sprinkle MSG over packing material and I would eat it until the bag ran out. I choose what I eat because it’s healthy, because it’s quick to prepare or because it’s the first thing which falls out of an overstuffed shelf onto my foot.

Clearly, I am not the culinary sort.

Is it Consort who thrills to my cooking? Nope. Consort prepares much of his own food. I don’t eat meat; Consort would eat the dog if he was hungry enough. I’m not one of those vegetarians who refuses to cook meat but I won’t taste it on the stove. Also, I am a little vague on the gradations in meat-preparation so Consort can either cook his steak to his liking or live life on the edge by gambling on what my interpretation of “medium-rare” might be.

Also, defying both geography and genetics, Consort’s digestive system is convinced he is either in Spain or Brazil. While he will politely sit with Daughter and I as we dine at a dinner-ish sort of hour, he has the appetite clock of a barn owl; he starts getting peckish around about midnight, if not later. Some mornings, I have shuffled into the kitchen to make Daughter’s breakfast and found Consort just finishing desert.

We can rule out Consort as the ardent fan of my ability to slop food on a plate.

Daughter? Oh, please. Daughter longs to live in her own house, where kittens shall run eternally free (and remain eternally kittens), where a kindly household staff never insists she make her bed, and a full-time chef prepares her nothing but pasta with Parmesan on it. I am getting vegetables into her system but each bite is a victory hard-won, each cruciferous hill taken a bloody slog, each trench a fusillade of anti-oxidants…

Sorry. I got a little lost in that one.

The point being, unless I am prepared to make cheese pasta three meals a day with a side-dish of candy corn and lemonade on tap, Daughter is not the fan of my cooking.

Is it the dog? Sure, the dog inhales anything I put in her bowl. But the dog tries to eat anything that hits the ground and doesn’t quickly scuttle away. It is hard to feel honored that she eats what I serve when I have just cleaned up what was left of her mid-afternoon snack: two skeins of needlepoint yarn and a packet of needles. You read that right; two weeks ago she ate half a pack of needles, including the plastic casing. Shockingly, she seems to have made it through without incident. I’d like to think this was the first time she ate needles but, thinking back, there have been multiple unexplained absences of needle-packets over the years. This is the first time she left evidence.

The dog gets excited when I pour her food; she gets positively ecstatic when I’m walking her and it’s a really hot day and a trash can has leaked a viscous puddle of fluid she can reach. For her, my food is a place-holder until she can move to a fast-food dumpster.

Are the cats writing me mash notes about my skills with kitty stars? No, but each one is convinced— nay, obsessed—with the thought that I am pouring better kitty stars for the other cat. Each day is a feline version of “Spy v. Spy” -- Charlotte the outdoor foster cat trying to get in through windows or doors to get at Lulabelle’s food bowl which is filled with the feline equivalent of champagne wishes and caviar dreams. All the while, Lulabelle is sitting on the roof, waiting for Charlotte to disappear (you know, into the house, to inspect Lulabelle’s kitty stars), so she can shimmy down and scarf up the high-priced spread I’ve left out for Charlotte. They get identical food, of course, but this is immaterial to them. This isn’t about the food. This is “The Art of War”, as written by Sun Mew.

I sense your impatience.

“Who,” you ask with justifiable irritation, “actually likes your cooking?”

The rabbits like my cooking. Clarification; I think the rabbits appreciate my food-handling ability, but at least three of them think I am a red-tailed hawk trying to fatten them up for some high-holy red-tailed hawk holiday. I come outside every night and see at least four brick-sized objects waiting expectantly in the periphery for dinner. As I near, three of the bricks scream in inaudible rabbit voices, “Eek! The hawk who brings food and fresh water nightly!” and they plunge into the shadowy depths of the nearest hedge. One rabbit, however, stays put. Not only does it stay, but it hops towards me. I think if it could clasp its little paws together in glee, it would.

I put the bag of food on the ground and unroll the top. The bold rabbit skips closer.

RABBIT: Is that…food? For…me?

QUINN: For all of you, yes.

RABBIT: This is so exciting! What did you make us?

QUINN: I’m going to throw some timothy hay on the ground. I also have some carrot tops for you.

RABBIT: I love timothy hay! And I also love carrot tops!

QUINN: I know. You tell me every night.

I scatter food in the usual place. The furry connoisseur gets on its hind legs and looks into the bag.

RABBIT: What’s that in there?

QUINN: Timothy hay. And carrot tops.

RABBIT: I love timothy hay! And I also love carrot tops!

QUINN: I’m very glad to hear it. Could you possibly crawl out of the bag now?

I cook, but I don’t care about food on the level which allows me to love cooking or become a truly wondrous chef. This might be the closest I ever come to someone going into ecstasy over my food. Being as the rabbit lives outdoors, and it is prey, some night I am going to come out with food and it won’t be there, and it won’t come again. I wish I could find it a home, but everyone who wants a rabbit, has a rabbit.

But every day the rabbit shows up. It gets timothy hay and some random vegetable scraps and it seems insanely happy. It might not be a long life, but it’s a well-fed one.

This is my Michelin star.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is the rabbit a lop eared? About how big a bunny are we talking? I will see if I can work the rescue over here, or even squeeze another bun into our life...

--Mary in Silverlake

7:30 PM  
Blogger Quinn Cummings said...

Mary,

Wow!

Neat!

Find me at quinn@thehiphugger.com; we'll talk rabbits.

10:35 PM  
Anonymous vic said...

Aaaww, nice story. I think wabbits are so cute and cuddly. Never had them as pets though. Cats are still my all-time favorites. =)

6:14 AM  
Anonymous Bangkok Expat Mama said...

This warmed my heart! Poignant and sweet. Does Daughter sometimes help with your evening bunny ritual? I imagine she probably enjoys scattering the hay and veg scraps. My two would be over the moon if we had four rescue bunnies dwelling in our garden...but we haven't a garden, much less bunnies, as we live in an apartment. Well, at least we have three furry felines deigning to grace us with their regal presence!

1:13 AM  

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