Spaghetti Western

I hate to cook.  No one who has met me will be surprised by this.  Eating is fine, and I'm swell at it, but the hunting/gathering/burning required to make food get on the plate is somehow just too much for me.  And my family agrees:  As a cook, I make an excellent knitter. 

It's a bitter irony, then, that as my children get bigger, it's more and more necessary that I woman-up and make food for them.  Sometimes, like, three times a day.  It turns out to be true what my mom told me when I found that stray cat:  If you feed them, they just keep coming back.

Phillip does his part in the kitchen.  He's every bit as weak a specimen in a Chef's hat as I am, but he hates it WAY less.  He even thinks it's fun, so when he's available, he does a lot more of the snackmaking than I. 

But yesterday, Phillip was sick.  He caught the gnarly chest cold I had last week, and was benched for the day.  Which meant it was all on me when dinnertime dawned.  I hadn't been to the grocery in a few days, so pawning it off on the Smallies as a chore was right out:  I was going to have to work without a net.

I spied noodles and a can of tomatoes in some cobwebby recess. Thoughts of an Italian feast danced in my head.  Garlic?  Check.  Tomato paste?  Check.  I even managed a bit of Italian sausage, left in the frozen rubble of some prior attempt.  Done and Done.  And while I was foraging, there presented itself a small plastic container (WARNING, COWGIRL, WARNING!) of tomato-based substance which would have to be leftover pizza sauce.  It passed the sniff test.  I even tasted it, just to be sure.  Dancing, as I was on the razor's edge of culinary improvisation, I was leaving nothing to chance.  Definitely tomato sauce of some ilk.  Into the pot it went, while the noodles bubbled.  A Caesar salad kit and half a loaf of Italian bread materialized, and I really began to feel that I'd dodged a bullet.  The enticing smells even brought Phillip vertical, long enough to make it to the dinner table.

All was right with the world.  Until I tasted it.  

Subtle notes of maple, chipotle and smoke tiptoed across my tongue.  A cloying sweetness argued loudly with the zing of garlic, right there in my mouth.  The afterburn of jalapeno (or something) chased sweet sausage all over my palette.  The cacophony of flavors collided and ricocheted; swallowing was impossible, and only my napkin could save me.  Eject, Buckaroo, Eject!

The tomato-based substance I threw into the pot had been Barbecue Sauce.

I sat there with my eyes watering for a while, wondering why nobody else was gagging.  Phillip could obviously not taste the problem, owing to his having a cold.  The children were not complaining.  Nor, I noticed, were they really chewing, so ravenous had they become in the eleven minutes since their last meal.

And that's when it dawned on me:  This terrible cook has been blessed with a family who cannot taste.  God is Good.