Wednesday, April 09, 2008

8 1/2: Food for Superheros and their Mortal Families

On Friday, I found out that my wife is a superhero. All this time, we thought she was a normal person, which caused lots problems until it finally came to a head. Karen had spent months on a doctor imposed diet, akin to kryptonite for Superman. But, she broke free through 9 hours of intense cardio-vascular exercise, muscle exertion akin to lifting a house, and stretched and contorted herself though a bizarre human mitosis that resulted in her first offspring. All of these feats of heroism deserved some kind of treat. What would Superman order out for from his ice palace? That was the question as my Superwoman lay in a hospital bed, surrounded by two gourmet best girlfriends and a really finicky mom.

I've already got my long term plan down for sustenance at supper time at the house. But, on this occasion, for me and Karen, it was a natch: 8 1/2 take-out Italian classics. After several months of drastically reduced carbs, pasta was suddenly on the menu, and believe me, she earned every noodle. It was the day of Jasper's birth and I left Karen in the hands of her girlfriends and mom at the hospital so I could attempt a nap (didn't work, too anxious). Before heading back to St. Mary's, I called and asked if I could bring dinner. "Please, bring anything, I'm starving. This hospital food is CRAP!" Okay, baby. I got you covered. How many people are we feeding? You want anything in particular? "There's five of us. Bring whatever you want. Oh, but my mom is here..." (pregnant pause) Lasagna from 8 1/2 then? "Yes. That's perfect!"

Karen's mom is not an adventurous eater. Jasper will probably embrace a wider range of foods by the time he's three years old. She won't touch most of my cooking and it often makes for some tension and reluctant compromises. But, if there's one area that we've all staked out as our common ground, it's Edo's and 8 1/2. She loves the marinara sauce and the lasagna. Although, Karen and I usually go for something with more vegetables or seafood involved, neither of us can think of a more satisfyingly garlicky and tangy pasta sauce in Richmond. I find myself trying to recreate their braised fennel or baked cabbage at least every other week.

At 8 1/2, I ordered one meat and one veggie lasagna, an eggplant penne, a house salad, and a white pizza. Something for everybody, for sure and just enough to fill five paper plates at least once, delivering strong flavors, diverse textures, and plenty of carbs that wouldn't have been allowed with a gestational diabetes diet.

While waiting my 30 minutes, I sauntered up and down the one-sided block of Strawberrytown. I picked up some gerber daisies (Karen's fave) from a florist, and the front page of the RTD from that bourgie convenience store that replaced the totally awesome Prices Market (yeah, I'm still holding a grudge). The front page reminded me that Jasper was born on the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. The other above-the-fold story ironically highlighted problems with Richmond's unequal schools that continue to suffer under defacto segregation. These two legacies will shape Jasper's world, whatever he grows up to believe or achieve. And our family will no doubt look at him as a ticking clock that will force us to confront our respective perspectives on the the local school system.

Back at the hospital, I rolled into the room with all of my treasures sticking out of our Craigslisted stroller and carseat "travel system" (PegPerego for cheap!). It was quite an entrance (or so I'm told), and everyone proceeded to ravenously wolf down the tasty Italian dishes. In the corner of the room sat a lonely tray of meatloaf and green beans. Both looked like they'd come out of a tv dinner. I'd hate to imagine what the hospital charge for that "meal" service.

There are probably going to be more meals from 8 1/2 now that we're back home. Now that Karen's secret identity has been revealed, she'll probably be called on to fly circles around the globe and turn back time or something crazy like that. When that happens, she's gonna need lots of carbs and calories to bring her back to earth. I can't wait to be a part of those cathartic meals.


  1. Fabulous, Jason. Congratulations to you and Karen for growing a newbie. I can't wait to meet little J.

  2. So is Jasper a Mortal?

  3. That's a good question. Jasper certainly has some symptoms of mortality (crying, immobility, pooping himself). But he does strike a Superman pose with both hands balled up over his head like he's preparing to fly. Maybe Greatest American Hero level at this point.

    I wish I coulda said more about 8 1/2 in this post, but these days the food in my life is kinda tangential and generally playing second fiddle.

    By the way, if anyone wants a baby dill plant, email me. I've got a whole tray of'em on my porch (certainly more than my herb garden can handle).

  4. "All this time, we thought she was a normal person"

    Foodie, didn't you know all women were superheroes?

    All babies are blessed and so are their mothers.

    Congratulations and give that woman a foot massage.

  5. Congratulations! You are too funny with the mitosis and all.


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