What’s This?

Almost every night when I bring in her dinner and place it on her lap tray, Mom stares at it like a vulture gazing down at road kill and then asks, “What’s this?”  There are a few obvious exceptions, like pizza, hot dogs, and shrimp.

It doesn’t matter that we have Albertson’s fried chicken once every two or three weeks.  When I place the plate in front of her with the requisite thigh, blob of macaroni salad and biscuit, she always asks, “What’s this?”

We usually have fish at least once a week – sometimes fried, sometimes baked, sometimes broiled – but when I place the plate containing the filet in front of her, she always asks, “What’s this?”  I would think the dollop of Tartar sauce would be a clue, but it never is.  If we happen to serve hush puppies with the fish, we get a second helping of “And what’s this?”

If we have burgers, she lifts the top bun and asks, “What’s this?”

If we have BLTs and soup, she peeks under the top slice of ‘T’, stirs around in the bowl, and then asks, “What’s all this?”

If we have French Dip, she stares at the roast beef-stuffed French roll and small bowl of Au Jus and asks, “What’s this?”  After we tell her what it is, she always exclaims excitedly, “Oh good.  This is one of my favorites.”

With the exception of spaghetti, pasta always garners questions.  If we have ravioli she wants to know what the big circles are.  If its tortellini, she wants to know what the little circles are.  If we have rigatoni or penne she wants to know what the ‘tubey thingies’ are.

I understand that if a dish is new or only prepared on rare occasions it probably warrants an inquiry.  But these are foods we’ve been cooking and serving for almost four years on a pretty regular basis, so I just don’t get it.  How can someone memorize an entire weeks’ worth of TV guide listings, remember when her next doctor appoint is six months out, and recall the date of the next Publisher’s Clearing House drawing, but can’t recognize a pork chop or a slice of meatloaf on a dinner plate?  I’m truly baffled.

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