She had a perverse love for trying new recipes on her children. Sometimes she thought it would have been so much better if she had birthed lab rats for this project – and for many other reasons – but she learned to brace herself for their salty commentary and to take it in good humor. Plus she was careful to always have cereal, fortified with essential vitamins and minerals, on hand as a good backup plan – or ice cream, if things went really wrong.

Saturday’s test meal made both girls wrinkle their noses and proclaim it tasted “weird” before boycotting the main dish and feasting on the side of total starch: roasted potatoes. And on Sunday, it was the “funny smelling” and downright “disgusting” ready-to-eat food she was trying out in her never-ending quest for tasty convenience. One child pushed away her plate in repulsion and the other took the tiniest bite before surrendering to her mother’s idea of leftover tacos for her evening meal.

In the back of her mind, she believed most people had some homemade meal that provoked childhood nostalgia. This weekend, she gave up the notion that her children would associate her mothering with food – and instead had the idea that her legacy to the girls would be not a meal but an experience: her experimental dinner theater – all the oddball culinary creations she tested on them and their colorful reactions.


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