I'm going to start this story with a personal note to my Women's Studies professor from college: Please do not continue reading.
OK are we good? Are we alone now? Because I'm about to venture into some serious damsel-in-distress territory here.
I can't grill.
From May through September, I depend on Andy - my totally evolved, equality-minded husband - to be my dinner hero. I know I'm not alone - I know that this scenario plays out in backyards across the country and that the Weber remains a shady, unknowable realm to even my most kitchen-savvy women friends. But come on, this is 2011. How is this OK?
I know what you're thinking - how exactly is it a bad thing that for four months out of the year, someone else is responsible for feeding Phoebe, Abby and me? (And feeding us well, I might add.) I can only respond with this anecdote: Remember last year how I miraculously arranged my work schedule so I could take a two-week beach vacation? The girls and I headed out for the first week, then Andy joined us for week two. Fun, right? I thought so too until Night One, when I found myself setting the oven to 425° to prepare Abby's favorite baked drumsticks. This is not the way to cook in the summer. On vacation. In South Carolina. In August.
And the thing is, as you hopefully know by now, for the rest of the year I cook like crazy. All year long I take pride in making sure something special is on the family dinner table. I can cook a piece of salmon to perfection, braise a pork shoulder to meltiness, and spin a lone, sad onion into a delicious, healthy meal. But all of this is cooking -- cooking that allows me to control heat the post-Industrial Revolution way, with a knob clearly labeled "Low," "Medium," and "High." I've always been a little terrified of fire. I get dizzy and starry-eyed watching Andy (my hero!) calmly rearrange yogurt-marinated chicken on the Weber, which, in my panicked hands, I know would probably just turn to rubber.
My fear of falling into tired gender roles and lifeless chicken was recently trumped by something more terrifying: Being cut out of the family memories. It dawned on me that while I am usually inside washing greens, puttering through other totally un-badass tasks, my husband is outside, presiding over the grill, refereeing a game of tetherball between Abby and the dog, kicking a soccer ball with Phoebe, and generally being present while all the late-sun-tinted summer memories are unfolding by the second.
I didn't want to watch from the window anymore. I wanted to be the hero. So I made the chicken. With a little coaching from Andy -- but for all intents and purposes, all by myself.
GET THE RECIPE FROM THIS STORY:
Yogurt-Marinated Grilled Chicken
This essay originally appeared in the July 2011 issue of Bon Appetit.
Jenny Rosenstrach writes the blog Dinner: A Love Story, the website devoted to family dinner, and is the author of the upcoming book Dinner: A Love Story (Ecco, 2012). She and her husband, Andy Ward, write "The Providers" column for bonappetit.com.