Our children bought us an anniversary gift and we started using it a few weeks ago. It was a gift certificate for one of those home deliveries of cooking ingredients for meal preparation – sort of a precursor for “meals on wheels” I guess.
The certificate was for a company called “Hello Fresh.” An odd name, I thought. Being practical, I thought maybe it should be more like “Cooking Helper” or “The Lazy Person’s Way to Cook” or maybe even, “I Don’t Want to Buy Groceries Today.”
Perhaps the name “Hello Fresh” sprang up from some mother’s bad day when the kids were complaining about dinner and asking, “what is this junk?” and she pointed to the bowl with her wooden spoon and said, “Ahhhh ... Helloooo ... It’s fresh. Count your blessings. There are children starving in China!” But I can’t be certain, though.
This modern approach to cooking is a bit baffling to me – someone who likes to can carrots and green beans from her garden and thinks buying frozen vegetables from the grocery store is sort of snobby. But then, again, I guess I have been complaining a bit in recent years about how hard it is to downsize my cooking from a family of five or more to just the two of us and how ingredients go to waste because we rarely use a full size jar of condiments before it expires.
And I’ve probably mentioned on occasion that I’m kind of getting tired of thinking of what to prepare for meals. My cooking repertoire has become about as exciting as the clothes in my closet, the paint on my walls, the entries in my diary ... well, you get the idea.
And so this new adventure was given to us by our three daughters and their families. Once a week we can go online and order a package that has all the ingredients for a meal for two delivered right to the house. If we forget to order the meal on time, the company kindly sends something they have chosen for us. It is how we became familiar with ingredients like couscous (not like the words you use when machinery breaks down ... it is more like garden peas that didn’t get picked in time) and Tibetan spice (which, when put on chicken and pan-fried, tastes a little like sitting cross-legged around an open fire at a high altitude in a house with no indoor plumbing).
The first meal was delivered on a 95 degree day. I wondered what mile marker the delivery truck passed when the food poisoning set in, but was surprised to find the ingredients were packed in ice packs and included fresh lemons, peppers, potatoes, carrots and chicken, still cold even though the outside of the box was hot from the heat of the day.
For someone who likes to economize and make a meal that can last into the next week so I don’t have to cook again very soon, the seemingly small amounts of everything were suspicious. There were tiny little packets of seasonings and broth and yogurt and sour cream. The potatoes were tiny. I felt like I was cooking for a party at Barbie and Ken’s house and thought they might drive into my kitchen in their little pink convertible at any time.
Boy, was I surprised that when I cooked the recipe that was included in the kit and put that food on the table. We actually got full. I guess it is true that quality is more satisfying than quantity.
Our gift certificate will run its course in a few more weeks. It makes me kind of sad and apparently my spouse, too.
“Maybe we should get this more days per week or at least continue it ourselves after the gift certificate runs out,” my husband said as he wiped the corners of his mouth after consuming the Korean rice bowl with steak and Sriracha sauce.
“Afraid not,” I said sadly, “It is beyond our food budget to continue getting this. You’ll have to again be prepared for super large casseroles that never seem to go away.”
I think I heard a growl – a deep emotional rumbling from the back of his throat, but maybe it was just the scraping of his spoon across the slicked-clean bottom of the bowl.