There is just no pleasing some people. And by "some people," I mean my family.
My brothers and sisters showed up this weekend to help me get a few little projects done around the house. While they sawed, sanded, scraped and painted, I cooked. Their compliments of my cooking ranged from "That wasn't too disgusting" to "At least he's trying." High praise indeed, if you had heard what they said the last time I cooked for them.
This time, I found some canned peaches Sue had put up; I stretched my abilities and made a pie for dessert. They all thought it tasted fantastic. The peaches happened to be 14 years old, mind you, but they were canned, sitting in a dark basement, the seals were tight and they looked good and smelled OK. So why waste them? Of course, I didn't tell anyone they were that old when I dished out the pie. I waited until the next morning, when we were sitting around the breakfast table.
Very casually, I asked if anyone had gotten violently ill during the night. No, everyone said they slept well. So my little culinary experiment had worked. And why not? If I had served them 14-year-old wine with dinner, they would have thought I was a great and thoughtful host. So I told them about the wine and the peaches.
Big mistake. People really go ballistic if they think you are trying to kill them.
Saying, "But I ate the peach pie, too," didn't seem to move them one bit. From the looks on their faces, it would have been fine with them if I had died, so long as they lived. My family would have made lousy Musketeers. What ever happened to "one for all and all for one"?
When did this crew become such picky eaters? They'll eat anything at McBurger's, anything from Dunkinbucks, and those places never tell you how old their stuff is. Why, oh why, did I mention it when I didn't have to? Sure, the peaches were from '02 and they probably should have had a label that said, "Best used by next Tuesday," but they didn't. And those dates are just suggestions, anyway. It's not like that can of peaches in the cupboard is good on Dec. 2 and suddenly goes bad on Dec. 3.
We shouldn't be throwing out good food. And for some of them, the peaches were probably the only fruit they'd eaten in 14 years. That's probably why they tasted so good. At least that's what I told my glaring guests. It was an argument that fell on angry ears.
"Haven't you ever heard of food poisoning?" said my brother. "We all might be in the hospital right now except for dumb luck. What were you thinking? We could have all been in agony for weeks."
"Now you're just trying to cheer me up."
"You could have left my children fatherless and my wife a widow."
"What's the matter with everybody? I think all that lead paint you've been scraping has gone to your head. Your wife would probably send me a thank-you note." Whoops. "Did I just say that out loud?"
"Say what out loud?"
"I could have you arrested for attempted murder," said my sister Mary.
"Tempting murder would be a better phrase. As I recall, you liked it a lot. Where's the love? Where's the compassion? But most importantly, where's your evidence?" I asked as I finished off the remaining pieces of pie.
I did feel a little queasy, but then, two pieces of fresh-peach pie could just as easily do that. I was letting my imagination feed off my family's fear of old food.