Let me begin by explaining that my son, who is 11, appears to have sprung entirely from the DNA of his father. Not only does he look like him, but he is a jock, loves math and science and hates English. It is my understanding that he would rather be run through with a poison-tipped arrow than read a book or write a poem. He likes speakers and wires and motors and air guns, and Kanye West and “Mythbusters,” and hates homework and practicing his cello. In short, I know he is mine only because he wrecked my flat stomach.
Except about the food. He cooks with me, and makes a damned fine omelette, but I had always assumed that his interest in things culinary was more related to hunger and/or science than to any interest in the actual craft of making good food. I have two pieces of evidence to the contrary, however, which will comfort me as I sit huddled in my rocker, listening to him explain that he is using his Ph.D from M.I.T. to design speaker systems to blast Hip Hop into space to force alien life forms into the open so that we can analyze them during a vigorous game of intergalactic football.
The first sign I got was during our recent trip to Florida, when I got the flu, and stayed home in bed while my parents took Sam to a very elegant restaurant called Avenue Sea, in the Gibson Inn in Apalachicola, Florida. The chef, David Carrier, has worked for Thomas Keller at the French Laundry, and partnered with chef Grant Achatz to create Trio in Evanston, Illinois, and I was both incredibly sorry to be missing what would be an amazing meal, and worried about exactly what Sam would eat at such an establishment. As it turned out, Sam was in heaven, particularly because he got to order a cheese plate, and choose his cheeses based on consultation with the waitress and his grandparents. Not only did he eat it, he photographed it and informed me that the Manchego was “a little grittier than what we get at home.” (As an aside, when my parents informed the waitress that they had a sick person at home and wanted to take a meal with them, Chef Carrier turned himself inside out packaging for me a perfect, delicate and lovely version of Chicken and Dumplings and a side of sweet potatoes. They were still so good by the time I got them that I can only fantasize about the quality of the food fresh and hot in the restaurant. Next year).
My second indication that Sam is, perhaps, in some way related to me came when he brought home a poem he had written in school. He was forced, it was an assignment, and it came home crumpled up so that I almost threw it away, but since I have thrown away checks, permission slips and invitations under similar circumstances, I smoothed it out and read this:
I go to my Hampton hungry!
I sit in my room
I turn on the television
I panic as I flip through the channels
Trying to find the food network
That they don’t have it!
I guess I’ll be going to bed hungry!!!
That’s my boy.