"So," said my future husband with a grin, "do you like
I knew nothing about cooking and told him so frankly.
"However," I added with the self assurance found only among
the young, "I'm sure that someday I'll be gourmet."
He believed me, and a few months later we were married.
Fortunately, sheva brochos eliminated all obligations
to prove my culinary flair. The first day after sheva
brochos wasn't difficult either. Breakfast was bagels and
cream cheese, orange juice and a fruit salad. Lunch turned
out to be a breeze. Mrs. Gordon, who had made sheva
brochos the night before, sent us home with some of the
extra good stuff she served. We were still full at
dinnertime, and breakfast the next day was the same as the
day before. So it wasn't until lunchtime that I mustered
courage and faith to prepare my new husband a meal.
He would be coming home from yeshiva in one half hour. I
opened my new cookbook and began perusing. After looking
through the few recipes, I learned my first lesson: start
early. I frantically flipped pages until I chose the easiest,
quickest, least elaborate recipe I could find, and one of my
favorites: tuna patties. The recipe called for two eggs,
finely chopped onion, a bit of matza meal, pepper, and of
course, tuna. Into the frying pan it all went, sizzle,
sizzle, flip, more sizzling and onto the plate with the
suggested tomato and celery garnish. I had successfully made
my first meal. My husband was so proud. I could see it
written all over his face; the tuna patties were delicious.
By the end of our first year, I was well on my way to making
more elaborate, sophisticated meals. Still, the memory of
that precious first meal never faded and one night, just for
fun, I thought I'd surprise my husband with a second round.
Just for the applause. He came into the kitchen while I was
heating the oil.
"Hmmm, what are you making?"
"Tuna Patties," I announced with twinkling eyes. "Remember
Tuna Patties? It was our first cooked meal, you know.
Remember? Wasn't it fun?"
"Oh, right. Tuna patties. Errr, yes, fun. Well, how about
going out tonight, instead?"
"Going out? What do you mean? You loved my tuna patties.
Don't you remember?"
"Er, ahem, yes. I do remember."
"You mean you don't like my tuna patties? But you said you
liked them. You didn't? Why didn't you say so? Tell me the
truth. Did you like my tuna patties?" (I left out the "or
not", just to be safe.)
"Did I? Well, the tomato and celery added a very nice touch."
Off went the apron, on went my shoes and coat. We headed out
the door for dinner. After all, a good garnish is
Nearly a decade passed since that fateful night. In time, I
learned to cook and bake with the best of them. Still, the
revelation of my husband's disfavor left a scar. For example,
whenever I'd burn dinner or add too much salt, I'd hear a
voice: "And tuna patties, too!"
The voice didn't limit its jurisdiction to my kitchen,
either; failure in any area would create this knee- jerk
response in my brain. The publishers rejected my picture book
story. "And tuna patties, too!" The dentist says I have a
cavity. "And tuna patties, too!" That woman cut right in
front of me as if I didn't even exist. "And tuna patties,
too!" It became a catch-all parable for disappointment, pain,
frustration and failure.
Needless to say, I never made tuna patties again for my
husband. And, in fact, I don't know what got into me the day
I thought I'd try slipping them onto my kids' plates. I just
didn't want to make hot dogs. I just didn't want to make
toasted cheese. I just didn't want to make anything.
In six minutes the kids would be walking in the door. As if
on automatic pilot, I opened the cans. "Why am I doing this
to myself?" I asked. "Because it's lunchtime and my children
are counting on a reliable, consistent mother to be there
with good food when they come home. So where's the good food?
Just keep moving. The results are not in your hands."
When they'd tell me they don't like it, I'd respond that they
don't have to eat it and that I'd be happy to make something
else but, of course, they'd have to be patient until I
prepare whatever they decide. That would buy me time and
preserve my reputation of being reliable and consistent. So I
continued - two eggs, finely chopped onion, a bit of matza
meal, pepper and, of course, tuna. Into the frying pan it all
went, sizzle sizzle, flip, more sizzling and onto the plates
with the suggested tomato and celery garnish.
In walked the kids. Everyone sat at the kitchen table.
"I don't like it," said the three-year-old. She popped off
her chair and headed for the living room to play with some
toys. That was my cue. I reassured her that since today's
lunch was a little experiment, I'd be happy to prepare
something else, but, of course, she would have to be patient.
Meanwhile, there was a big stir at the table. "Wow! Yummy!"
the others exclaimed. I couldn't believe my ears. "What are
these, Mommy? They're delicious!"
With the calm and cool found only among the mature, I
responded casually. "Tuna patties." I couldn't keep up the
act, however. I threw my arms around them and told them the
entire story. They couldn't believe how anyone wouldn't like
my tuna patties. They were so well formed and browned just
right. Not too much onion, just enough pepper - they were
I serve tuna patties nearly every week now for lunch. (The
three-year-old eats a sandwich.) And now, when the publisher
[not YN - we haven't rejected anything of L.S. yet] rejects
my picture book or whenever I am misunderstood or otherwise
taken for granted, I just say, "And tuna patties, too!" But
with hind- and foresight. Now I know that to everything there
is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven,
including Tuna Patties.