Last summer, on my last day of school, I drove Phoebe to Skaneateles, a beautiful postcard town in the Finger Lakes region of New York. It was a late sixth birthday party and an opportunity for a reunion of a father and daughter from an old school. The plan was to spend two nights at the Sherwood Inn, sail around the lake in Judge Ben Wiles, hike the mountains at the Baldwinsville Nature Reserve, and, of course, dine on the famous (at least) Doug’s Fish Fry. Doug’s is one of those places that feels like it has never been, where you take a red plastic tray and order at a long counter, restaurant-style; the kind of place where everyone who enters comes with a slaw side, and where there is a model train running on an endless loop around. large dining room. On our first night, we went to Doug’s and ordered our fish and fries, and I found a side of baked beans. Now, let me support you for a moment: this time, Phoebe had never eaten beans in her life. It was not that he did not like himself; he was shocked, disgusted, and disgusted with them. When making peppers, I would have to keep one part of the pan free of beans or risk not touching it. When I placed a small bowl of black beans on Phoebe’s plate to match her quesadilla, she would pick up the bowl with her fingertips out of her plate with great contempt. Anyway, we go back to our room for our night with Doug. We grabbed our trays from the table, grabbed our ketchup, tartar, and tabasco sauce, and sat down. Damn, did my beans look good-thick and dark, black with particles of pork product floating in them? “Come on, Phoebe,” I said. “How can you not like this?”
“No, thank you,” he said.
I persisted, trying to meditate, trying to make him see. “All right, but let me ask you.” I said. “Do you like ketchup?”
“Brown sugar? Molasses? Bacon? “
Yes, yes, and yes.
I explained, though, that this is what beans are for! (And, you know, beans.) I gave him the standard deal: just one bite. Try it once again. If you hate it, spit it out. He finally confessed, was bitten just once, and, for the sake of his eternal fame, swallowed up his pride and declared his enduring love for baked beans. It relieved me that he had already seen the light, but I wondered without hesitation why it had taken him so long. Baked beans were the basis of my youth, a complete diet; they were what we ate with hamburgers and hot dogs, the only ones we called “Bean Beans” with a picture of cowboys sitting around the fire on Campbell’s can label. They were designed for kids!
The beauty of Phoebe’s conversion to Doug was that, once she had eaten a delicious baked bean, a whole new world of family dinner opportunities opened up for us. He was no longer saying he didn’t like beans. Black beans (for our burritos), white beans (for our chili and our white beans), garbanzo beans, friends (to go with our tacos), lentil salad: individual, dominoes fall out of lentils, which says “still working.” And in addition to being a simple first step in adding beans to the family collection, baked beans-at my expense, at least-are an automatic dinner. If we need a quick lunch before soccer, if the refrigerator is empty and empty, we can do it for dinner. If we are tired and do not like to cook, and cannot tolerate another frozen pizza, we get a few slices of baguette, discard half a can of beans on top, remove knives and forks, and finish.
From Dinner a Love Story