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Stephen King Helps Me Cook Dinner, Sort Of

On Friday, Santa Maria and I had plans to have guests for dinner, twice. Let me explain. Early in the evening, about five p.m. or so, our friend, C., who lives in the building, and her son were set to come over. C.’s husband has been travelling for work, and Santa Maria thought it would be nice to give them a home cooked meal.

Later that night, my sister and her husband and their son, who was to be playing soccer nearby, wanted to come and see our new place. They would be hungry and I wanted to feed them.

So the stage was set for an evening of entertaining.

While I was at work, Santa Maria served C. and her son the homemade Bolognese sauce I make a point keeping in the freezer. They all loved it, but there was a problem.

I wanted to come home in time to catch the tail end of dinner with them, and then put Nina and Pinta to bed before our second set of guests stopped by. Two things conspired to complicate those plans, though.

First, I left the office late. Second, Nina and Pinta are head-over-heels about their cousin, so there was little chance they would be going to bed before he arrived.

When I walked into the apartment that evening, everyone was in full revel mode. The girls had toys all over the living room. Santa Maria was drinking Prosecco with C.. Bedtime for anyone was about as far away as Bourbon Street is from Broadway.

I was hungry, tired, and faced with a choice—freak the !@#&*@#*!! out; or try to relax. I’m not sure exactly why it is the case, but the transition from work to home can, to put it mildly, be a bit taxing. It’s especially hard for me if I’m hungry, which I often am. When my blood sugar is low, tying my shoes is challenge.

I looked around, took a deep breath, and opted to just chill. I’d like to take credit for this mature decision, but I can’t. There’s one reason I kept my cool—we had guests over. And I’m so glad that we did. Santa Maria and C. had saved a glass of Prosecco for me, as well as just enough Bolognese for me to slay my hunger.

The kids played, my sister’s family arrived, C. departed to put her son to bed, and we rolled into the second half of the evening without incident. I whipped up a batch of Puttanesca, cracked open a beer for my brother-in-law, and we had a delightful time.  

The way the whole evening unfolded brought to mind what Stephen King writes about in his essay in “Man with a Pan” (which is officially on sale tomorrow!). He says, “in both cooking and life my motto is KISS: keep it simple, stupid.” Bolognese? Puttanesca? Not losing my temper? What could be simpler?

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