Long before the word “Foodie” ever graced the culinary world, I became a wife — a wife that not only knew her way around the kitchen, but who possessed passion and ambition to please when it came to planning and preparing meals; versatility, creativity and general skills became such the norm that, looking back, I wonder if possessing these traits is what has had a huge hand in keeping me married for over 26 years.
I learned early on that something so down-home and simple as chicken-fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy was a favorite of Chuck’s practically all his life. I, on the other hand, detest chicken-fried steak, and in turn have taken every opportunity when I make this favorite for him, to make something delightful for myself that he isn’t crazy about.
There were times back when sushi wasn’t high on his list when I would make my own California Roll as the CFS sizzled away and potatoes boiled. We ate dinner together; just different menus.
Although we eat the same thing for dinner 90% of the time, this evening is not one of those times. While at the supermarket a little over an hour ago I perused the meat section and cube steaks jumped out at me. I knew we had potatoes at home, and, knowing there was a ball of Burrata cheese — something I love, while him, not so much — at home in the fridge, I picked up some Soppresata salami and seeded baguette to complete my antipasti-type meal.
Once home it was easy to get started on his dinner. Dipping two small cube steaks in buttermilk, then into a well-seasoned flour-bread crumb mixture while cubes of potato boil, it comes all so mechanically, yet lovingly.
Creamy mashed potatoes piled on a blue plate (one of the only blue plates we have; this sort of meal just cries out for it), I make the well in the center that will hold the gravy; crispy fried steaks snuggled up close and also drizzled with gravy. I set the pepper mill nearby as, no matter how much pepper I use in preparing, Chuck always likes to add his own touch (I am sure it’s more psychological than anything).
I call upstairs that dinner is ready and then assemble my own special plate of Burrata, Salami and even a little homemade hummus to spread on baguette slices. As I pour my glass of wine, Chuck wanders into the kitchen and his eyes light up at the sight of his “Blue Plate Special.” It is a look I have seen 100 times before and never tire of.
Perhaps I should have titled this simply “Chicken Fried Steak;” but the truth is, I feel the need to honor and acknowledge what I put on my plate as well; just as we honor, acknowledge and even celebrate our differences, as hopefully most couples do.