Ina, Are You There?…

Cooking is not my best skill but I can tablescape better than Martha Stewart can fold a fitted sheet. And I can plate more creatively than the finest in France. But in order for me to actually cook I’d have to get off my butt and stop watching Ina.

I’m reminded of my weakness when Middle Chicken sends a Facebook message concerning the barefoot one and her badassness in the kitchen, which just so happens to be a to-die-for Hamptons sprawl complete with walled herb garden and all the gay friends a girl could wish for. She was a favored companion during chemo and radiation. Something about a woman older than me making soup and explaining blanching veggies in a soft voice I found soothing.
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Don’t get me wrong. My children did not grow up on Mickey D’s or hot dogs cut up in mac and chesse or ketchup spaghetti. I can master spaghetti, make a mean meat loaf, stroganoff, Caesar salad and chicken. Chicken is my specialty. I stuffed the combination of lemons, oranges and rosemary from the garden into the butt of the bird long before Ina put it on the show. She stole that from me.

But to really cook, be inventive in the kitchen and create beautiful delicacies, meh.

It helped when I occupied a mini-mansion and possessed every product Cuisinart ever made. My family feasted on flower shaped waffles and juiced oranges from the tree in my side yard when I was sure a snake would not be out there. In Minnesota, when they were small, I was known to grow various veggies and occasionally even use them. But that’s Minnesota where a person will do anything to go outside without a down coat and a muffler.

So Middle Chicken sends a missive about Ina and the comments fly. Seems everyone wants Ina to be her bestie. And why not?

The girl’s idea of bringing a gift to a cocktail party is a basket filled with cheeses, freshly baked palmiers and home made apple butter. A simple bottle of cab would be so very gauche.

She has the perfect husband. He is never underfoot. He does flit in to give her kisses, taste things and rave about Friday night roasted chicken every week for forty years.

She lives in a home in the Hamptons, mostly by herself. Jeffrey probably spends the night on weekends. Yet her pantry is filled with deliciousness from all over the globe and glass jars filled with homemade chocolate chunk cookies, in case she needs to create an ice cream sandwich at a moments notice. Just to shop in the pantry of Ina would be akin to heaven.

A garden bursting with the finest herbs, so we can always create the perfect Provençale blend, is but a step away. And, bonus, someone else plants and tends.

She trades cooking for friendship. Whaa? Are you telling me that if I take you to the dentist you’ll make me a beef bourginone? Deal girlfriend.

She’s the perfect best friend. She knows how to do everything I don’t. She doesn’t dress better than me. She has a way better house so we can hang there and the YaYas would totally be on board.

I can see it already. “It’s time for dinner at Ina’s, girls,” say I.

The Ya-Yas begin their dancing. We lift our wine glasses to the sky and thank God to have finally found a friend who thinks it’s okay to buy store-bought if we haven’t crossed the border lately to procure the very finest in vanillas.

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