November 17, 2012 in Features

The Slice: When cook’s goal is perfection, it’s difficult to lower the bar

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Here’s the deal.

There are routinely praised homemakers who, though consistently excellent cooks, are unwilling to admit that any dish they prepared has turned out well since a miracle casserole made during the Nixon administration.

According to them, much of the food they have served was barely fit for human consumption. This, despite the fact that the opposite is true – over and over.

No need to name names. This can be kept in the family.

But some of these self-doubting culinary masters are a wonder to behold. According to them, virtually everything was “burned,” “not left in long enough” or otherwise “didn’t turn out right.”

I knew a well-fed man who became so accustomed to hearing this from his loving wife that, while waiting to be served yet another scrumptious meal, he would say “Well, I guess we’ll just have to throw it out the back.”

To my knowledge, that never actually happened. Time after time, that cook’s pre-emptive apologies turned out to be utterly unwarranted.

To be fair, at least a few of these perpetually dissatisfied denizens of the kitchen are not clinically insecure or totally lacking confidence. Nor are they simply trying to lower expectations.

It’s not even a case of performance modesty.

Their problem is that they measure everything against perfection. When they realize that a dish didn’t quite come up to the almost mythical standard established long ago by accident or magic, they regard it as a disaster.

Everybody else at the table, however, is certain to disagree. And ask for second helpings.

Items of apparel that garner compliments: According to his wife of many years, Ken Stout’s butt looks good in this one old pair of black, button-fly Levis he has had for ages.

Jeff Brown offered a different perspective. “What compliments?” he wrote. “I’m 71. As close to a compliment I get is ‘You remembered to zip up today – good boy.’ ”

Warm-up question: What is the least expensive item you have purchased that came with an option for a pay-extra warranty?

Today’s Slice question: Are you cynical enough for 2012?

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email pault@spokesman.com. Wash your hands frequently to avoid Spokanthrax.

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