The book will include a bunch of these short vignettes, because we all love food, and what we cooked and ate in those days is part of our story. Most of them will have recipes, although this one doesn’t. – JH

What We Ate #1 – 05/06/2021

Jay was one of the pickiest eaters I’ve ever encountered: no onions, nothing spicy, nothing exotic – if it hadn’t been on his family’s table in 1950s Indiana, he wasn’t interested. Mostly, when the Dudes weren’t around, we ate separately – frozen dinners for him, eggs or a sandwich or a salad for me. On weekends, when Miles and Ben were with us, I’d cook something simple that everyone enjoyed. But that was in the period when Jay and I were becoming known on the national scene, so we traveled both together and individually – and when he was away, all bets were off. We had “Eat Food Jay Hates” weekends, full of sushi and Thai and curry.

On one such weekend, a friend had gifted me with a sweatshirt that said “PAIN IS GOOD,”[1] illustrated with a photo of a man gasping. It came with a bottle of Pain Is Good jerk sauce. Jerk chicken was high on the Food Jay Would Hate list, what with being spicier than a TV dinner, so I set forth to cook some.

I’d marinated the chicken in the sauce all day. As I stood at the stovetop grilling it, I sneezed. Then I sneezed again. Then I started coughing, and then my eyes started streaming. And then the Dudes emerged from their room down the hall, also sneezing and coughing, and helped me throw open all the windows and doors. I took the pan off the heat and we went outside until we could breathe again. When we were pretty sure the place was habitable, we went back inside and I finished cooking dinner with a box of Kleenex on the counter beside me.

Turns out there’s a reason jerk chicken is usually cooked outdoors – if you cook it indoors, its proper name is “tear gas.”

(The chicken, served over lots of rice, was delicious.)

[1] I wore it until it fell apart, years later.

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