05 October 2008

Not 'Yer Grandfather's Stew

Since she first moved in with us, Bella has always talked about her favourite meal. Stew. Not just any stew, but the stew her Grandfather used to make her. This is the kind of food that foodies love best because it's a meal tied to memories.

The thing is I hate stew. For the same associative memories that make Bella love it, I cannot stand it. The smell, the taste and most of all the texture. It's just not a meal that I've brought myself to make for her in the past year and a half.

But on Saturday morning as I meandered over to Loblaws, there, in the meat cooler was a package of stewing beef with a bright pink label marking it 50% off. While I love the Saturday morning meat sale - there's nothing like getting more meat for your family and making that dollar spread further - this stewing beef called to me. I could take advantage of the great price and do something nice for my daughter at the same time. The generosity of a cheapskate!

I talked proudly about the stew I was going to make just for her. I searched the internet for a great recipe. I even came in early from planting bulbs so I could brown the beef for the stew. When I realized we were out of bread I even adorned the best puppy dog eyes so that Wifey would quickly run to the store to grab some.

I made the stew with love and three hours later dished it out for the dinner table.

The look on her face said it all. She wasn't impressed with my efforts. Not one bit. We probed about what the problem was couched only in the guilt of "look at all the effort I went to for you" that a parent could muster.

She then spilled all her disappointment. "The stew my Grandfather used to make was white," she said. The bowl that we'd assembled for her contained a brown stew. As she ate it, it also turned out that she didn't like the potatoes. Or the stew sauce. Or the beef.

In the end I'd venture to guess that what her Grandfather used to make her wasn't stew at all. The lesson I get from this is that frugally motivated kindness will give you a karmic kick in the ass every time.

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