At my kid's elementary school there was talk of putting together a cookbook of favorite family recipes as a way to raise funds. As a household composed of a Jewish-Peruvian-American father and a Spanish mother (with the resulting three hybrid sons), my wife and I debated over the paella, the kugel, the boxed macaroni and cheese, the matzo ball soup and the ceviche (or a mishmash of all these dishes). In the end, however, since we could not come to an agreement, I suggested we skip the ethnic path, forego foreign flavors, and stick with a less traditional, more universal family recipe to appeal to modern parents with a wide-range of taste buds. Below was my contribution:
Recipe for Disaster (serves 10-12)
3 small boys (organic) ranging in ages from 8 to 13
1 father, mildly neurotic but athletic
1 mother, sleep deprived but still sexy
Fresh holiday traffic, lots of it
1 lightly dented minivan, in need of a car wash
Large and small foreign and domestic plump vehicles
Afternoon sun (optional)
1. Preheat city streets with garden variety of large and small foreign and domestic plump vehicles and bake until there is slowly moving bumper to bumper traffic.
2. Add a freshly visible four-car accident a block ahead.
3. Sprinkle parent's constant shushing sounds inside the lightly dented minivan, in need of a car wash, telling organic boys to limit the screaming in the back.
4. When the mud-stained soccer ball from the back seat hits the driver's seat for a second time, add stern warnings.
5. Blend in father's guilt at his apathy about doing nothing about the situation in Syria, the situation in Mexico, about global warning, the foreclosure crisis, the gang crisis, world hunger, the water crisis, the rise of the Tea Party and the decline in literacy.
6. Fill the interior of lightly dented minivan, in need of a car wash, with large doses of parental powerlessness and constant thoughts of a vacation away far far away from the organic boys.
7 When the smelly tennis ball hits the front window for a second time, add renewed stern warnings and take away everything organic kids like to do for the rest of the year.
8. Raise the volume of the Radiohead CD to drown out all the "it's not fairs" and the "can you buy me this..." coming from the back.
9. In large urban casserole, blend in father's guilt and rage, mother's stress and panic, ten tablespoons of noise (traffic), three tablespoons of noise (kid fart sounds), the Radiohead, the honking from outside, the afternoon sunlight (optional) until it all boils over and there is a sudden explosion in the lightly dented minivan, in need of car wash. Garnish with lots of hope.
Recommended wine: 2006 Reserve Merlot Gold Medal Winner - Sonoma County Harvest Fair