SECTION SEVEN 

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COLUMN EIGHTY, DECEMBER 1, 2002
(Copyright © 2002 The Blacklisted Journalist)

REAL FOOD

 

"Wolf, is that you?"

Wolf sat in the kitchen hunched over a Great Dane-sized bowl of Chex. Maybe if he ignored the small boy's husky voice it would go away.  The whole thing was getting of out of hand.  Gone were the days when he could have an entire box of cereal and a half-gallon of milk in peace.

"Wolf, I know you're in there."

The boy had a wide-awake, teasing voice. He sounded as if he had been  waiting up with bright eyes for the entire night.  

"Yes, Max," Wolf growled. "Yes, Max, I'm in here.  Yes, I am eating the Chex.  Good night , Max."

"Whaddaya shouting for?" Max was at his elbow in the bright kitchen.

There was something precocious about the kid. Wolf couldn't remember ever having been that smart. Or awake.


Side dishes
that could be ready and hot
at the touch of a button


"Is your mother up?"  Wolf kept munching. The kid looked like he was ready to play basketball or run laps or something. He looked positively up for anything.

"Nah," she's been snoring since 1:25 a.m.," said the kid, who'd been learning time off the digital clock and liked to be precise.

"Ya hungry?"  The irony of Wolf's life. All night long, cooking for other people then come home ready to flake out and he's got these two hungry beams set on his face.

"Actually," said the kid, "I could use a little something. Just a snackaroo."

"Yeah, yeah."  Wolf put his soggifying bowl of cereal aside and told the kid to sit.  

There were a lot of great things in the freezer. The kid's mother said there was never anything real to eat in the house, but what did she call all this stuff? Those great burgers, complete with buns, just zap 'em and you had a satisfying munch. Or what about that fresh day-glo colored can of cheese whiz? It cheered Wolf up just looking at it. After he did a little shopping for the restaurant yesterday, he'd done the shopping for his house. Blew almost $200 on groceries. Skippy smooth peanut butter, nice soft white bread, Orange crush soda, Hellman's mayonnaise, frozen burritos, fish sticks shaped like stars and planets and all kinds of fun, nutritious, delicious entrees and side dishes that could be ready and hot at the touch of a button.

He slipped some frozen mini-pizzas into the zapper for the kid. The kidís eyes were lit up with admiration. It was always like this. At the restaurant, there were customers who nearly wept over Wolf's famous combinations of textures and tastes, melodies for the mouth, as one local paper said.  The sweet-tart taste of beet might spike the pink, soft flesh of baby salmon, penetrating the cracks of a crunchy, nut crust, piercing the fish while grounding the oceanic vibe with the rootedness of roots, almost like modernized Macrobiotics.  Even his salads were poetic---wild grasses, a hint of citrus, the dusky, ochre taste of marinated hearts of palm and faintly, in the far distance, a high note of mint. Wolf set the frozen pizzas in front of the kid and poured him a glass of orange soda.

"Wolf," said the kid, patting the chef on his arm, "You know what I like."

It was always like this---the adulation, the compliments, the contented sighs of someone's soul hunger being satisfied. And yet, coming from the boy, it was different.  Wolf wasn't sure why, but he suddenly felt happy to just be sitting there in the midnight kitchen, the two of them sat companionably silent, eating their snacks, thinking only of the Twinkies that would make the meal complete.  ##

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