Cooking for Company

Coc au Riesling

Ok, so I was going to write that tonight I am cooking and eating with Frank.  No lie, I have shared more time in the kitchen with that boy, Sinatra, than any male I know.  But to be truthful, I’m hanging with the whole Rat Pack.  Dean Martin, fav of my sis and Mama Sargeant, is singing right now as I eat my new Dish Darling—Coq au Riesling. I just made it the cover shot of my Pinterest “I Fancy Food” Board.  (Need I say more? For all those who know my go-to cliché, “long story short,” the answer is, of course, I will say more.  Always.)

Coq au Riesling renders the best “sop” I’ve ever had, and coming from a Kentucky-Turned-Tennessee-Girl raised on buttermilk and red-eye gravies, you can trust me. And Ella.  I never allow my puppy “people food,” but tonight I slathered the creamy concoction over her Iams.  The little lab mix lapped it up.  I varied the recipe by using rosemary and lemon thyme from my deck rather than parsley, and to prevent family feuds, I used all legs rather than equal parts of legs and thighs.  My Mama Lou called legs “drumsticks,” and she and my dad preferred them to any other part of the chicken.  So do my kids and I.

You can also trust my rave review because I’m about to go all gut honest and still raw…again.  First of all, like my dad who called “Izod” shirts “Izog,” and my mom who makes Walmart and Kroger plural, I did a brain switch on the name of the chef, Nigel Slater, who created Coq au Riesling.   When I pinned Alida Ryder’s blogpost in which Nigel’s recipe was reprinted,  I thought the name read  “Nigella Lawson.”  I hadn’t seen the brunette British bombshell in years, so when I Googled “Nigel Slater” to see what she was up to, I discovered she is a he. Both are food gurus, but they are very different people.  So technically, tonight the Brat Pack welcomed Nigel, not Nigella, to dinner.  Though I didn’t dream up the traditionally French dish, my oversized imagination transported me to Paris where I sat, not at my kitchen table, but as a Parisian sidewalk cafe.  Mama Lou taught me how to do that when we’d fly to France via her rocking chair and then move to the couch where tv trays were tables at Maxims.  And as I did last month when in Paris for real, I, of course, snapped a picture.

Which brings me to a bit of a struggle due to the Facebook/Pinterest Effect.   While we were once frightened by 1984 or The Truman Show, we find ourselves teetering between putting on a positive face/showing gratitude and living in a “Look How Great My Life Is” photo shoot (ie) trying to cook like The Barefoot Contessa while looking like Giada; resisting Instagram Envy when our travel pics aren’t from the Great Barrier Reef or Bali; missing realtime conversation because we’re distracted checking in at cool concerts, restaurants, and social events which, in turn, makes someone else feel “How Sad My Life Is” because he/she wasn’t invited; feeling pressured to book the next  Richard Avedon for  engagement/wedding/firstborn’s first birthday party pics before even dating anyone.  But I’ve decided I can say life is good, and simultaneously wish someone special was sharing this meal with me.

I knew the day would come when my kids would leave home, so I tried Match as an insurance policy against an empty table.  After a not-fun first date several years ago, the angry guy who drove me home sneered,  “Oh yeah, all you women are soooooo happy with your lives.  But you know what?  You aren’t all that happy or you wouldn’t be on Match.”  His bitterness scared me.  The truth is I have much to be grateful for.  Once a coworker compared me to Ally McBeal: “You have to love her.  You are both the ‘Queens of Angst.’” I remember mentally depositing him, Ally-like, into a curbside dumpster.  Probably because he was right.  I’m happy to say I’m no longer as full of angst as I once was, but as I discussed with friends, Kim and Cheryl yesterday, life is about seasons.  As for Ally,  I love that she was honest.  Though good at her career, though independent, she wasn’t afraid to want more. Wanting a life partner didn’t make her weak.  It doesn’t make me weak either.  Admitting it makes me real.  When he joins me for Coq au Riesling one day, I’m sure Frank and Nigel, though not Ella, will gladly scoot over.

Cindy McCain

I'm Cindy McCain, Southern Girl Gone Global, who flew from my empty nest to write/teach for three years in Marrakesh, Morocco and the Caribbean. Now back in Nashville, I'm sharing tales, tips, and takeaways from exploring 27 countries and finding treasures in my backyard. My blog offers itineraries, travel/hospitality reviews, and inspiration for letting go of fear, holding onto faith, and finding freedom in roots and wings. Featured in Yahoo!, US News and World Report, Expedia, Orbitz, StyleBlueprint, Named a Top 35 Baby Boomer Blogs 2020-2023 and a Top 50 Travel Blog of 2016.

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