A few weeks ago our friends Kate and Joel and their three girls came over for dinner. We were all vacationing on the same island together so the menu was as simple and fresh and kid-friendly as we could manage: asparagus salad (without eggs for the kids), campfire potatoes, and grilled chicken sandwiches with homemade slaw. Kate took one bite of her sandwich and, because she is a good guest, immediately started oohing and ahhing and inquiring about how we put the whole thing together. “This is perfect,” she said. “Just what I am in the mood for. Man!! And the slaw! Mmmm! How did you make it?”
I told her slaw is one of those things I don’t really have a recipe for. I just start whisking things together and keep adding more shredded cabbage and carrots until it looks about right.
“OK, fine, but what exactly are you whisking together?”
“It’s like I’m making any salad dressing. I’ll add a dollop of mayo to the bottom of a large bowl, then add some celery seed, some cider vinegar—-”
She crossed her arms in front of her face and looked away as though I had shined a bright light in her eyes. “OK, stop right there,” she said. “Page turner!”
“What…?” I was confused. (Were we talking about the can’t-put-it-down book Blood, Bones, and Butter again??)
“Cider vinegar?!?” She said. “I don’t know from cider vinegar. As soon as I see it in a recipe I’m turning the page.” Kate is a psychologist, but she has also has a side career as a Second City comedian, so sometimes it can be hard to tell when she’s kidding.
“That’s ridiculous,” I told her. “It’s cider vinegar. It’s right next to the balsamic vinegar in any supermarket.”
“I don’t care. The whole idea of it scares me. The whole idea of someone who knows how to use cider vinegar scares me. It’s like cream of tartar. I mean, what is that? What do you use it for? What kind of people buy cream of tartar?” (more…)