No Apologies

By Alexandra Stafford, Alexandra’s Kitchen

I heard myself doing it, but I didn’t stop. The words just spewed from my mouth after every bite. The polenta is a little bland, I’d say, encouraging my guests to add salt and some extra parmesan. And the vegetables are a little cold, I’d lament, confessing that I couldn’t quite get the timing right. And the bread just didn’t rise as it always does, I’d sigh, questioning what went wrong this time around.

I heard my mother’s voice in my head — Of course, nothing ever turns out right when you have company over — and then I paused. I had become my mother. I had become self critical and analytical and apologetic. I was one step away from declaring my dinner both over and undercooked, a concession my mother has made on more than one occasion, one that always makes my sister and me giggle to no end.

As I cleared the dinner plates and prepared dessert, I channeled my inner Julia Child, summoning one rule in particular: No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize.

I served the panna cotta, and despite finding it much too sweet, I didn’t utter a word. I looked around. My guests, heads down and silent, clanked their spoons against their plates, scooping up every last morsel. Silence is a good thing. I finally relaxed. Thank you, Julia.

About Alexandra Stafford

I have always loved food. Over the years obsessions have ranged from thin-crust clam pizza to New York bagels to fresh rice noodles to fish tacos. But in the past few years, my idea of good food has changed considerably. Like many people, I’ve been swept up in the local-food movement.

You can find Alexandra at her website Alexandra’s Kitchen, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.