My wife is more sophisticated than I am. Granted, this is as obvious as a horsefly on a powdered donut hole to anyone that knows me. You see, my wife, Renee, travels a lot for her work at the university. She has been to Disney more than all of my relatives combined, because that is where academic conferences tend to occur. Well, she has also been to Vegas more than a career gambler too. Sin City is another popular destination for her work conferences. She is also a big fan of trying new things at our local restaurants too.
“Why don’t you try the smoked pig cheeks?” she asked me one time.
“Because,” I said, “I don’t know if I will like it. I know I like brisket, so I got that.”
“Well,” she dismissed my hesitance, “You were probably a picky eater as a kid too. Did you always choose the same thing then?”
“Yeah,” I said, “I chose what my mother cooked. The other option was to not eat at all.”
That, I suppose, is why I tend to not order things I have never tried while at a restaurant. Going without food as a kid was free. Going without food at a restaurant costs $20 plus tip. Incidentally, I tried pork cheek at a pig roast not long ago, and it was delicious. One night this summer, I trained the hunting beagles until dark and then went home. I fed the dogs, put my Tek 2.0 SportDOG tracking collars on the charging station, and poured a big glass of iced tea.
“What do you want for supper?” Renee asked.
“I am flexible,” I said, “It is hot outside, so I am not in the mood to eat much. Maybe another glass of tea will be enough. Something cold.”
“how about charcuterie?” she asked.
“You like it. Remember, you had it when we were at the restaurant last month.”
“I doubt it,” I said.
“It was served on a wooden board. There was salami, capicola, brie, feta, and cheddar,” Renee counted each item on her fingers as she looked to the ceiling to jar her memory.”
“Oh. Well, yeah, why don’t you just call it processed meat and cheese.”
“Preserved. Not processed. Charcuterie is a variety of processes to preserve meat, and it is intended for you savor the flavors that are bestowed by curing and smoking.”
“Um. Okay. I will eat breadless sandwiches if that is what you are in the mood for,” I said, “It can be on a regular plate too, if we don’t have any extra cutting boards laying around.”
On another instance, Renee called me when she was on her way to a meeting, “Can you make tapas for us tonight?” she asked.
“If you tell me where to find one,” I said.
“No!” she said, “Don’t you remember we had tapas together?”
“You mean that tilapia fish?”
“I mean tapas. Small plates meant to be shared.”
“Small plates of what?”
“Well,” Renee sighed, “It can be whatever you want. We have some chicken leftovers, and some pasta salad, and a few hard-boiled eggs that could be deviled.”
“Oh,” I said, “Yeah. I can cook some warm ups.”
“What are warm ups?”
“You sophisticated people call it leftovers.”
“Well, yes. Our tapas will be leftovers, but that is not what it means. It is small plates of food intended to be shared.”
“So, you mean appetizers?”
“Whatever, can you make it? I will be home at eight o’clock tonight.”
“And your warm up appetizers will be waiting!” I said. She just hung up.
At the beginning of August, I was getting the freezer ready for the upcoming hunting season. I had a couple rabbits in there, a bit of venison, one pheasant, a grouse, and two doves.
“I am bringing home some company” a text from my wife appeared on my phone. I was running dogs. I ignored the text.
“Can you get supper for everyone?” she texted again.
“I guess,” I typed back.
“Whatever you want to make is fine. Or buy something. Four people are coming.”
“7 pm” she typed. I picked up the dogs and went home.
I made rabbit bratwurst, venison jerky, and a noodle soup with all the gamebirds. I also made these peppers that I stuffed with ground venison that I cooked and then wrapped those same Hungarian wax peppers with crescent rolls. I baked them until they were done. The freezer was now ready for the fall hunting season.
“Wow,” Renee said as she entered the house and smelled the food, “Where did you get delivery from?”
“I cooked,” was my reply as I handed everyone a saucer. “This here meal is tapas, with a little bit of charcuterie in the form of venison Jerky—perfectly preserved.”
“What?” my wife looked nervous.
“I have rabbit bratwurst too, as well as some venison stuffed peppers and a chicken noodle soup made with pheasant, grouse, and dove instead of chicken.”
“I have never tried rabbit,” one guest said.
“Well,” I replied, “It is free to you, which is the best way to try something new.”
“This is good!” one guy said.
“Feel free to refill that little plate that goes with the coffee cup,” I motioned towards the food, “My wife says that tapas is served on small plates.”
“I like this bratwurst a lot,” he answered, “Maybe you can teach me to hunt.”
“Well, I suppose.”
“What do I need?”
“Hmm,” I said, “I can loan you a shotgun. Get a pair of brush pants, boots, a hunting vest, an orange hat, and take a hunter’s safety course.” Who would have thought that these sophisticated types would become hunters because of the desire to try new food? Supper tables are the future for converting people to our sport. Well, my wife calls it dinner, but you know what I mean. It is supper.