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(Aug 5th, 2017 at 04:30:14 PM)
I remember Saturday nights
when the cuisine du jour was an excellent
cupboard-clearing, corn flake-crusted,
canned vegetable casserole.  Baked to perfection.
Those nights always started with sighs,
exhaled into a vacant wallet or fridge,
and a renewed interest
in the arm-length depths of the cupboard.
But they ended with a unanimous demand for seconds.

I remember the days when we were better off
and enjoyed the smell of sauteed onions and beef
and the juiciness of the salted tomato slices
we savored as we sat waiting for supper.
Sometimes it was Ritz cracker and potato chips
served on a table-sized platter,
with black olives, pickles, and radishes,
and a fresh tub of vegetable dip.
“The hors d'oeuvres...”, my father would say
in a loud, exaggerated butler voice.
It got a laugh every time.

I remember the messy array of plastic containers
of dried spices and salts and extracts
that filled the long shelf above the stove.
I would watch my dad select them
with something between precision and impulse
driving the decision of which one to grab next
and how much of its contents to add.
We would stir them in, stick our heads out over the pot,
and slurp from the edge of the spoon
in search of the “yeah” or “whoa” or “mmm”
that told us it was ready to be eaten.

Nowadays I can afford whatever I need,
even local, organic, non-GMO feed,
but I’m still rolling the dice on tomato sauce spices
and making new dishes with minimal guidance.
I form a mad-lib recipe with whatever’s pre-stocked
and try not to worry if that’s all that I’ve got,
because the ingredients were never the determining factor,
it was always the company, adventure, and laughter.