A week or so back, the weather in Lotus Land was conducive to a pot roast. (Remind me to expound at some point about how completely whacked the Southern California weather has been this year….or not.) At any rate, it felt “Fall-ish” and I was in the mood for big-time comfort food, which of course, pot roast exemplifies.
Now. When I was a snot-nosed kid, I *hated* pot roast. Just loathed it…….dunno what the heck my problem was.
Well, actually, I think it was an overload of “good, solid, Midwestern meat and potatoes” meals when I was growing up. God knows, my mother tried, tried, to inject some variety and some *gasp* SPICE into her cooking, but Daddy, well, Daddy didn’t like much of anything that didn’t sit on his plate and declare itself in a loud voice as being “BEEF” and “POTATOES”. OK, pork was allowed (if it was in chop/ham/bacon form) and chicken made the cut (breasts only, please, never a whole and roasted bird). And rice and noodles were OK. Noodles only, please. Pasta? Come on, them there’s foreign. Spaghetti and meatballs (and very, very occasionally, when we were livin’ on the edge, spaghetti and Italian sausage and peppers) were OK. Tacos were most absolutely NOT OK. Nor was lasagna. Chili was acceptable, so long as it was ground beef, canned kidney beans and canned tomatoes. Light on the onions and garlic. NO fresh chiles. A dusting of chile powder (mild) would pass muster. I hated that stuff too.
My poor mother. She was open to experimentation, and loved to cook. Finally, when I got to be a snot-nosed young adult, she took to making two meals. She’d cook a roast or stew or a pot of spice-less chili for Daddy, and then she and I would have tacos or manicotti or enchiladas or whatever. Trust me, for us, in the day, THAT was exotic ! It actually worked out fine, especially once I started cooking and would take over making dinner for Mom and me. Compromise, baby. It’s what it’s all about.
But back to pot roast. I actually used to tell my Mom when she cooked it, that I couldn’t understand how pot roast could smell so good when it was cooking, but taste so blah when it was done. Maybe my snot-nosed palate couldn’t appreciate the beauty that braised meat becomes when cooked properly. Maybe my Mom’s recipes sucked (onion soup mix anyone?). Who knows? But in my advancing dotage, I’ve certainly come to not only appreciate the delights of a pot of braised, succulent meat in a silky, savory sauce (braised beef short ribs are my absolute favorite, death-bed type meal), but to respect it and anticipate it.
Marry that with some (yes) potatoes, creamy and smashed, and well, it’s pretty much Nirvana (not to mention comfort and warmth) on a plate.
And…as an extra added bonus (insert wild applause here), we learn a lesson in physics ! YAY us, especially considering again, I never actually, technically *passed* a college-level math class. Nor a college-level (ok, fine, even a HIGH-SCHOOL level) physical science class. But I rocked in the biological sciences……does that count? I think it does.