The best completely untrained home cooks I’ve ever met have loved a good meal. The late James Barber, who ended up starring in the popular cooking show “The Urban Peasant” used to lovingly caress his English peas before he tore open the pods with his bare hands and threw the “little beauties” onto a crisp bed of salad. Barber never trained as a chef but he loved eating and celebrating life. He would smack a large raw bird on it’s backside while telling his audience something like this, “Step one: pour yourself a glass of cold, white wine.” Without a whole lot of hoity toity training in the kitchen, he was free to play. And he was equipped with the two most important ingredients for success – an appreciation for good taste combinations and a “what-the-hell” attitude. His wonderful sense of humor didn’t hurt either. Barber took the fear out of cooking at home.
Last week, my 6 year-old and I attended a birthday party for one of his friends. As the mother of three young children, I find myself at one of these parties about every 6.5 seconds. Either the years are going by faster now that I’m entering my fourth decade of life or people are celebrating their children’s birthdays more than once a year. Usually, these parties have a simple, almost comforting, rhythm: welcome, activity, food, cake, goodie bags, farewell. And usually, the food is something our kids have apparently agreed upon as a universally acceptable birthday food – pizza.