You know, sometimes I forget that everyone isn't just like me. I say this because of an experience that I had last night. My roommate decided to cook dinner for her new beau and asked me and another friend of ours to join them. Now, when I have a dinner party I plan plan plan. I set the table nicely, I organize and usually create a time chart for myself with when certain things need to go in the oven, etc, I clean as I go(incessantly as I do not have a dishwasher), and I plan a meal that makes sense. When arrived at the house last night our kitchen was pretty much a disaster. The sink was full of dirty dishes, there was food on the kitchen towel that is laid out to dry clean dishes on, there was an enormous bowl of whipped cream in the refrigerator with no use, and my roommate was attempting to make french onion soup. Now I have not mastered the art of French cooking (sorry Julia), but I know a few things and I know the general concept of what makes french onion soup. What it is not is a few sweaty onions covered (prematurely) with vegetable broth with a bunch of parmesan cheese poured in. Call me crazy, I know. I am not sure how one can actually create something that is both tasteless and too salty. Not until last night did I think that could exist, but I was proved wrong.
I first spoke up when she mentioned the parmesan cheese. I said, "wait, you need to use gruyere." Her response- "oh yeah, I forgot to get it at the store, so i am, using Parmesan." Ok, hold up, now french onion soup is essentially three ingredients, onions, beef stock, and gruyere (ok, and the bread too, fine, four). That's like saying that you are making a caprese salad but you are going to use cheddar cheese instead of mozzarella. Hey, do your thing, but don't call it caprese. So I instantly reacted and said, "why didn't you ask me to pick it up on my way home?? How could you have forgotten it?" I was simply amazed that one could do that. I would have paid a taxi driver to go the the store and grab a brick of gruyere before I would attempt to use Parmesan as a substitute (and what a terrible substitute it is. Swiss maybe you could try, even gouda, something that melts though).
So dinner is finally ready. I sit down at the table and I am handed a fork, a napkin, and a tea spoon. There are no placemats (my mother would kill me if she knew we ate dinner last night on my family table with no place mats), and then I am handed two bowls, one with a very odd looking soup in it, the other one an empty pasta bowl. I look around the table and see a smattering of food. There is a half eaten cheese platter, there is a platter with carrots and celery and hummus, a bowl with sweet potatoes (they were actually quite good), garlic bread, and a bowl of salad large enough to feed at least 10 people. We sat to eat. And this is when (I hope) my roommate discovered that parmesan cheese does not melt the same way as gruyere. The soup was very yellow with not very cooked onions in it, a piece of bread floating around, and these disgusting warm globules of parmesan sticking to the bowl, the spoon and dangling around the soup. It was very strange, but I didn't comment. I have a bad habit of being a kitchen nazi ("everybody out", "ooh, can you use this knife instead?", "no I don't need help, just let me do it myself", you get the picture) so I decided just to sit and have a glass of wine while the cooking derby was occurring.
Anyway, the reason I am commenting on all this is because it made me realize a few things about myself. I do not consider myself to be type A, anal, or OCD, but perhaps I might be just a teeny tiny bit. I was amazed because I would rather disinvite everyone for dinner, or throw everything in the trash, than serve a dinner that was so unplanned and on a table so cluttered and unset. When it comes to cooking I am extraordinarily judgmental (mostly just of myself) and a perfectionist when it comes to everything being just right. I am overly apologetic whenever I serve a meal (I'm working on it), and insecure until I am sure everyone is satisfied. But I am learning that it is okay not to be that way. There is room for all kinds of cooks in this world, I just wish they weren't in my kitchen.