Oh crumb, he's been watching the Food Network again.
I studied the grocery list posted on the fridge. Under the usual milk, eggs, bread, my husband had added some items: candied orange peel, dried lavender flowers, shad roe sacs....
Psychologists and other experts have harped for years about the dangers of a steady diet of television. A glut can create unrealistic expectations and blur what's real and what's fiction. They were warning about kids, though.
I'm living with a grown-up statistic.
I thought nothing of it the first time the stat settled down with his bag of Fritos and cold cheese sandwich in front of Emeril Lagasse.
"Man, look at that braised duck thigh," he mumbled to his cheese. "Even that Portuguese kale soup looks delicious."
Recipe by recipe, the celebrity chefs have whipped up heaping platters of discontent right here in my own kitchen. No longer is the victim content to dine on a microwavable pot pie, even when I serve it on Chinet. He suddenly hankers for brie and raspberries in puff pastry and aromatic braised oxtail with preserved lemon polenta. I don't care how many bay leaves you toss on an oxtail, I want no part of it.
Since he started feasting on the cooking shows, the foie gras is greener on the other side, and he fancies himself in the role of celebrity chef with decent cutlery and such. He hasn't actually prepared one of the recipes, but he's in the preheating stage taking notes and gathering ingredients. His grasp of reality is getting as slippery as custard.
The other day, for example, a section of gutter collapsed. It came crashing down and swung outside our family-room window. Meanwhile, the victim continued to jot notes on how to pleat a dumpling.
"You know what I'm really craving?" he said one night when he was tuned in to Wolfgang Puck and tuned out of the here and now. "Scallion pancakes with ginger dipping sauce."
"You can't crave something you've never had," I pointed out. "Besides, you'd need a body mint after eating all those scallions."
His second choice was buckwheat blinis.
I stuck a fish stick with tartar dipping sauce under his nose and reminded him that the TV meals were fiction.
"First, no kitchen has that many clean skillets and saucepans. Second, the time is totally out of sync. A team of drudges has spent hours cutting those Chinese jujubes and lime leaves into pretty little ribbons. And who cleans up all that mess, anyway? It'd take us a week to recover from one of those meals."
But it was too late. His eyes glazed like peach-drizzled crumb cake as he added to his grocery list.
If I can find a coupon for shad roe sacs, fine. Otherwise, I'm switching over to The Weather Channel.