Pizza, Peppers, and Picky Palates

Categorized as 09/08/08 Goshen News column

By and large, the crowd that decimates our larder is relatively easy to please. One of their favorites, of course, is pizza. I’m no gourmet chef, but I make a pretty mean deep dish pie, if I do say so myself. This alone has kept me employed through stormy seasons of civil unrest and attempted mutinies. If I throw in some string cheese and make it a stuffed crust, my poll numbers take a sharp upward turn and my approval ratings climb. The disgruntled little protestors abandon the picket line, exchanging their Crayola signs for a bib and a fork. They’re a fickle bunch.

As at any table where eager eaters gather, each set of taste buds brings its individual quirks. For instance, Thing Three hates mushrooms and can spot a fragment the size of a period in a vat of spaghetti. Inevitably, his plate returns with a post-pizza mushroom pile on MAP (movie and pizza) nights. Thing Two hates green peppers, so his post-pizza party plate holds a pile of peppers a la Peter Piper who, as you know, once picked his own peck of peppers. (Sorry. I couldn’t resist.) While Mr. Schrock prefers ham or grilled chicken on his pie, along with lots of sauce and plenty of mushrooms, Thing One mows through anything remotely resembling pizza without so much as a blink.

Sure, being the sous chef has its drawbacks (after all, I actually have to plan a menu), but it also has its perks. I get to plan the menu. This means that if Mama doesn’t like it, it’s not happening. If Mama does like it and you don’t, tough cookies, because it is happening.

One of the items that will never appear on this mama’s menu is liver. Yuck! Ick! I can’t stand the stuff. You just can’t say enough grace over that platter to make it palatable. President Bush didn’t like broccoli. I don’t like liver. So, please – if you’re lucky enough to be a liaison for the Liver Lovers of Lower Louisiana, don’t bother writing. I will not eat it here or there. I will not eat it anywhere.

There is another personal peculiarity that I have never revealed in public for fear of provoking a backlash from the pink percentage of the population. (Oh, dear. I did it again.) That’s why I’m only going to share it with you, a few of my closest friends. Here goes. I’m a woman and I don’t love chocolate. I know! I know! It’s positively unfeminine, but I can’t help it. Now, a little bit of chocolate is okay in the right place, like a Reese cup, but I’m really a vanilla girl at heart.

Actually, I should clarify. I am a chocolate girl. White, that is. Not brown. I’m rabid about the stuff. White chocolate mochas are my favorite, and the girls at the coffee shop know exactly how I like it. This sets me apart from my husband’s entire clan who are known for their addiction to all things chocolate. Call me a reformer, but they’ve not broken me yet.

On our specific branch of the family tree, every other nut, from Mr. Schrock to the baby, is a chocoholic. My parents witnessed this phenomenon with their very own eyes once when they were visiting. We were eating at a restaurant, and my men had just ordered a chocolate dessert called “Thunder From Down Under,” intending to share a few bites. At the first taste of chocolate perfection, the entire half of the table occupied by their mandibles fell silent. The only sound that could be heard was the clinking of spoons accompanied by the flashing of teeth. We watched, transfixed, until my father broke the silence.

“Man,” he said dryly, “a fellow wouldn’t want to drizzle chocolate syrup on his arm and reach through that crowd.”

In addition to our love for pizza and chocolate, white and brown, we are card-carrying members of the Krispy Kreme Klub. There’s nothing like the sight of the “Hot Light” to get the crowd pumped and the van rocking. To a man, they dive for the steering wheel to help their father make the turn into the parking lot. Throw in some – what else? – chocolate milk with that, and it’s a feeding frenzy.

Yes, they really are piranhas when there’s good food around, and it is rewarding to cook for such an appreciative bunch. I’ve learned to count a clean plate as a thumbs up, although a few adjectives would be nice now and then. We’re working on that.

As for Peter Piper, Kermit the Frog just recently reported on Sesame Street that he is purportedly now in Portland, pressing pants. Really.

Rhonda Schrock confesses that she doesn’t know what came over her this week. She suspects an overdose of Sesame Street and Dr. Seuss and states that a mocha (white, of course) could restore blood flow to the atrophied brain cells.

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