Friday, February 10, 2012

The Beef Stroganoff Situation

Vince called me on his way home from work the other night and asked me if I’d eaten dinner yet. Since his schedule is so varied these days, there is never one correct answer to the question. It depends on what time it is when he asks. It depends on what time I get home from work. And it mostly depends on how hungry I am when I get home from work.

But, since I had just returned home from my weekly loop around the library, grocery store and gas station and hadn’t yet had a chance to forage for food in our fridge, the answer – on this particular evening, anyway – was “No.”

He said he had a craving for beef stroganoff, which is the Wednesday special at The Rusty Bucket. Not being a big fan of mushrooms, I didn’t have the same craving, but I was happy to accompany Vince while he indulged. Okay, mostly I was happy that I didn’t have to cook.

So Vince picked me up and we headed to the joint. All the while he’s practically rubbing his hands in anticipation, which was a little tough since he also had to shift while he was driving.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to get clear in my mind the difference between The Rusty Bucket and the Old Bag of Nails restaurants. What’s with these weird restaurant names in Columbus, I’m thinking. And why can’t I ever remember which is which? Usually I combine the two and it becomes The Rusty Nail. This makes me remember the time when I was a kid and stepped on a rusty nail and had to go to the hospital to get a tetanus shot, which was pretty traumatizing. This memory does not exactly evoke happy thoughts of food, so then I muse that it's a good thing neither restaurant called themselves The Rusty Nail.

Yeah, I know – what can I say? I have a pretty fertile imagination and my mind takes weird detours from time to time.

Anyway, we get to the restaurant and what happens? We sit down and Vince, not even cracking open the menu, tells the server he wants the daily special. But oblivious to the impact her answer will have on my husband, the waitress breezily chirps, “Oh, we’re completely out of the Beef Stroganoff!”

The silence at our table was deafening.

Vince was so let down he very nearly stood up and walked right out of the restaurant. I believe he only restrained himself because I was with him.

He ended up ordering something else that he said wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t beef stroganoff. The poor guy was so disappointed. Even worse, he had had lunch that day from the same restaurant chain at the location nearer to his office. And he specifically didn’t order the beef stroganoff just so he could have it later that evening at dinner with me.

Yeah, I’m thinkin’ he won’t make that mistake again.

Meanwhile I was still happy I didn’t have to cook. Or clear the table. Or do the dishes. So basically I would’ve been happy sitting there drinking a glass of water and munching on a carrot stick or maybe even a piece of cardboard.

Um…on second thought…maybe not. There really aren’t a whole lot of pots, pans, dishes or silverware to wash with either a carrot stick or a piece of cardboard, so what would be the point? Plus, I don’t think cardboard would be very tasty – not that I’ve actually ever tried it. No, not even when I was a stupid kid doing stupid things like stepping on rusty nails.

So the impulse to learn how to cook beef stroganoff for Vince is kind of strong right now. But I’m trying to tamp down the impulse since I really don’t know the difference between button and morel mushrooms – and I’m not sure I want to find out.

Besides, I’m not sure I could take the disappointed look on Vince’s face when my version of beef stroganoff can’t compare to The Rusty Bucket’s version.

So instead I think I’ll just drive over to The Rusty Bucket next Wednesday and get a Take Out order of beef stroganoff for my dear husband.

(Better get there early, though.)

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