A wives tale

I am so excited to welcome my very first guest blogger at Diaries of a Foodie. This post is brought to you by Shelley Manley, a freelance writer, copy editor and graphic artist based in Upstate NY. Here’s a recipe similar to the one she writes about.

My husband never cooked until: one, we got a microwave; two, going out to dinner became too expensive; and three, he got tired of my meat ‘n’ potatoes Irish-American-style winging-it family cooking and decided he could do better.

So he learned to grumble his way through recipes (“How the heck do you fold food?”) and slowly gained confidence until one day he decided to tackle veal, which as everyone knows is a fine line away from shoe leather.

So he was cooking away one night and I was off in a corner writing until he called me over for advice.

“This gravy won’t thicken.”

I took a look at the recipe which stated, in brief, (this is important): “Coat veal in flour, brown veal in frying pan, remove veal, add onions and mushrooms, stir in more flour, heat and stir until thickened.” Presto, tender veal with mushroom gravy.

The frying pan held a grayish substance with mushroom lumps. I took the spoon from him and took over stirring. It just didn’t look or “feel” right. I scooped and poured a bit a few times with the spoon. Seemed sort of thin and grayish for flour gravy, even if it hadn’t thickened yet…

“Which flour did you use?” He pointed to a white substance in a measuring cup. It looked kinda shiny and granular and suspiciously like… I tasted it. Sugar!

I laughed, “You can heat and stir this from now until Doomsday and the only thing you might end up with is mushroom frosting!!!” One of my blue Tupperware canisters was sitting on the counter. I checked it. Sugar indeed.

“I *thought* the veal didn’t brown very well!” he said, disappointed. “Aw, and now I’ve got sugar all over the veal, and that was the last can of mushrooms, too!” He
knew veal wasn’t cheap.

“Wait — we’ll salvage it.” I washed off the veal, dumped the “frosting” into a strainer and rinsed the sugar off the mushrooms.

He started all over — with flour this time — reusing the rinsed veal and mushrooms. The resulting meal was actually the most tender veal we’d ever eaten, and surprisingly not sweet at all. I told him maybe he was onto something and cooking the veal in sugar had actually tenderized it and made it more juicy and flavorful.

A short time later I recounted the whole incident in my newspaper column and he protested that people he barely knew now stopped him on the street to tell him how much they’d laughed over his “Veal & Mushroom Frosting” experience.

Later I realized the whole scenario was due to gender stereotypes.

Any typical female head of her household’s typical kitchen probably has a typical canister set. I was no exception. Canister sets come in sets of four in descending size: flour, sugar, coffee and tea. Even though I store in mine, in descending order: flour, sugar, brown sugar and powdered sugar, “everyone” knows the biggest one is always flour, not sugar.

Husband wasn’t in on this stereotypical inside female secret, but my daughters and I were, and so was Tupperware, so none of us bothered to label the canisters.

Husband learned a lot that night.

I never did label the canisters.

        Shelley Manley is a freelance writer, copy editor and graphic artist based in Upstate NY.

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