What does my family love more than my braised beef cheeks? A lot, it seems

I serve up culinary delights for them, but when I'm not there, a sausage and jacket potato sandwich is what they crave

Living in my house means knowing pleasant joys. I wake up every morning, only thinking about dinner. What should I cook for them all today? What noble dish will I serve my lucky family tonight? Should I head for the hot, numb embrace of Sichuan or the darker flavors of northern Spain? Will the anchovies engage somewhere in the depths of the deep sauce with more force and tenacity than a Porsche 911 Turbo? They often. I have a cupboard full of spices and sauces. I'm rich in ground cumin, dried chilies, and gooey pot of tamarind. I have the incredible kitchen skills, determination, and greed it takes to come up with brilliant meals for every meal. Being part of my family means winning the culinary lottery of life.

Or maybe not. Recently, when I was serving my newest creation Рperhaps the long-braised beef cheeks in a spiced tomato sauce from a recipe by Jos̩ Pizarro, or perhaps the teriyaki chicken РI asked my loved ones what they would have had for dinner the night before. when i go out. It was an ordinary question, with far more unusual intentions. I wonder how much they miss me. My wife, Pat, sat up and grinned. "Sausage sandwich," he said. "That's good." My son joins. Oh yeah, cheap pale white buns, and crap sausages, not the shitty ones with too much real meat in them, and not close enough to the nipples and nostrils. The three of them discussed the excitement of their sausage sandwich party. I blink. Sausage sandwiches? For dinner? Pat shrugged, and looked down at the lavishly lavishly made plate in front of him. "We have to wait for you to come out to be able to do something like that."

I think we have a shared family culture. I think the elaborate meals I serve are an "we" thing, not a "me" thing. Now, suddenly, I find that sometimes, like Jehovah's Witnesses and Mrs Brown's Boys, I am just tolerated; that there were things they wanted to do together that I had to protect. Do I really know them anymore?

Let's be clear. They really appreciate what I cook. A cooing sound is made. Plates cleared. I applaud it lightly, and would never speak about any of it publicly in, say, a national newspaper column. By the same token, I'm not all about roast goose with caviar chasers. I really like the sausage sandwich. There's even a place in my life for cheap sausage sandwiches, made with white bread that you can snap back to a doughy state if you squeeze a crumb between your thumb and forefinger. But not for a bloody dinner. It's a moment to take things seriously. This is an opportunity, a time to support you. Or at least that's what I thought. I've read about high-flying Michelin-starred chefs who, at the end of a long service of throwing perfectly cooked ingredients into place, want nothing more than a Pot Noodle or a bag of chips. But it didn't occur to me that this food fatigue could spill over to a family of committed, well-meaning, stomach-obsessed restaurant critics. One night not long ago, it turned out I was going back for dinner when I thought I was going out. Pat was on duty that night. What did we experience? Jacket potato with grated cheese and baked beans. I've never seen them all look so happy. Is it right. I don't know why I bothered.

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