Sixteen years ago today, May 17, 1998, David Wells pitched a perfect game for the Yankees against the Minnesota Twins. He was the 13th pitcher in modern baseball to pitch a perfect game and the 15th of all time ever. I remember hearing the story on NPR the next day and being awed by his accomplishment. I liked Wells fine enough, even though I’m a Red Sox kind of gal; but I’d always thought of him as pudgy and goofy and ready for a bar fight and not the kind of player who would join Sandy Koufax and Catfish Hunter in making baseball history.
In his autobiography, published several years later, Wells would reveal that he had a massive hangover on that perfect game day; he wasn’t really sure he was up to par, so to speak, when he was warming up in the bullpen. He didn’t head out thinking that day would be the day he’d pitch a perfect game.
I was thinking about Wells this morning as I drove to Chick-Fil-A in my nightgown to get breakfast for my son. I was in my nightgown because I didn’t want to shower and dress because I am going to exercise today, dammit, and I mean it. I am going to exercise once I wash my exercise clothes that are in the Everest-sized pile of laundry I’ve been ignoring. I am going to wash the clothes and then exercise and then shower and then get dressed. But first I had to feed my starving adolescent boy child, and he asked for Chick-Fil-A, which was actually just fine with me because even though I have local, free-range eggs and uncured, no antibiotic bacon in my refrigerator, I just don’t feel like cooking. Today I am over it; tomorrow might be better.
So there I was in my car, wearing my nightgown (which, for the record, looks like an Indian tunic that a hippie like me would wear on the weekend anyway), watching the windshield wipers erase the pouring rain on my window while I waited in line to have food served to me through a window, thereby disqualifying it as “food,” according to Michael Pollan, and I was thinking about how I was failing at setting the standard for healthy eating and following the rules I set for our family, and then I was thinking about the thing I believe, down deep in my heart, the thing that keeps me going:
Perfect is the enemy of possible, and possible is what’s important.
And so I was thinking about David Wells, hungover and hoping not to vomit on the pitcher’s mound, focused not on pitching a perfect game but on the possibility that he might make it through the game. Perfect is the enemy of possible, and possible is what got him out there that day the same way possible would get me back home, breakfast in hand, to show up for the things I said I’d do, whether or not I’ll do them perfectly. I’ll map out a menu plan and write a blog post and be a mom and do whatever comes next and see what happens.
The days when I feel completely uninspired (today), when I don’t feel up to the perfection of abiding by real food rules or planning a week of five star dinners or writing a brilliant blog post, I have to remember that perfect isn’t my religion anyway. Possible is.
What’s possible this week? I haven’t a clue; I’m just going to plod through and figure it out. Maybe I’ll still be in my nightgown. Maybe, somehow, I’ll magically pitch a perfect game. Step one is to climb on the mound. Step two will take care of itself.
Grilled Chicken | Cole Slaw
Ok, I’m a cheater: I buy pre-shredded cabbage from Whole Foods. I rationalize that I’m saving money and resources in the long run because we won’t likely eat an entire head of cabbage in one week, let alone two. And since I like a mix of red and green cabbage for slaw, two are required. So really, I’m saving money and food. It will come as no surprise that I like Alice Waters’s recipe for slaw; I prefer the one in The Art of Simple Food, but this one that I cut out from the NY Times years ago is also good and very easy. If you need some inspiration for grilling chicken (and who doesn’t?), here’s a great post from Serious Eats that ought to get your creativity flowing.
Chicken & Cheese Enchiladas
This recipe from Food Network is a cheater-cheater-pumpkin-eater kind of recipe, which is right up my alley this week. If you’re a super achiever and have the time, of course you can roast your own whole chicken instead of buying one prepared at the store. If you can’t find tomatillos, substitute some Herdez salsa verde but be ready for the extra jolt of salt.
Farfalle with Spring Vegetables
Food & Wine has a boatload of recipes for complex dinners that my people won’t touch, but it also has some easy ones that even picky eaters will enjoy, like this one for pasta (farfalle) with spring vegetables.
I am cooking this dinner this week whether or not I win the argument to convince Bernard that ethically raised animals are all raised equally ethically until they become meat for consumption, whenever that may be, and that eating meat is eating meat. And veal piccata is delicious; it’s a rare and special treat, and easy to prepare. This recipe from Saveur is a good one; there are great tips for preparing veal, particularly the scalloppine cut, in Marcella Hazan’s great book Marcella Cuccina. If you want a twist on a simple veal preparation, here’s Marcella’s Veal Scaloppine with Celery and Orange.
Waffles with Whipped Cream & Strawberries | Bacon
Yep, this is a kid’s dream for dinner. And since it’s the last week of school (how is that possible?), it’s a dream-come-true kind of week. I use the Joy of Cooking recipe for pancakes (totally foolproof). It’s included in the new JoC iPad app, if you have that. Google “Joy of Cooking pancake recipe” and you’ll also find it reprinted on dozens of sites, although I can’t verify that they’re all true to the original (just buy the book).