Ratatouille, or How I will Survive the Next Four Years

January 13, 2017 § 1 Comment


I think I will survive our horrible political reality, this return to the 80s, the 50s, the 30s. Here’s why: I can outlast anyone. Not in a staring contest, or a fitness workout, but I can outlast just about anyone in a sheer test of will. My dad found this out the hard way.

It should have been easy. In two more years, I would declare myself vegetarian and a liberal. I would have had to eat the whole pot of Ratatouille on my own, just on those grounds. But this was before that. This was the late eighties, when things like croissants were new and different. Quiche and pasta salad were all the rage.

My dad fancied himself a gourmet cook. I did not fancy him any kind of cook. Truth be told, now that I cook, he used way too much oil and he was a fan of too rich food. He wasn’t often home for dinner, but when he was, he went all out. So, this night, it was ratatouille. If you have seen the movie, but not had the dish, let me explain. Ratatouille is a French vegetable stew. It involves eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes. Now, it sounds perfect on a cold night with good bread. But then? I refused to eat it. And once I refuse, I do not budge. Ask my children. Grit, not bull headedness, I choose to think.

We sat at the table, his Kruschev to my Kennedy. “We will sit here until you eat it!” he said. We sat. We sat. My mom quietly cleaned the kitchen behind us. She usually let the dishes soak, but this was a prize fight: the old stubborn man against the more stubborn daughter. We sat. The stew grew cold. The cold war stewed.

Eventually, he said, “I’m going to put this in the freezer,and you will eat it later.” I would not. He put the bowl in the freezer and with quiet glee, I slipped back to my room. I never ate that ratatouille. It sat in the freezer for months until someone threw it away. I can sit quietly and resist. It’s in my blood. I won’t eat this stew.


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