Dinner Disaster (A Travel Snippet)

To escape Canadian blizzards and ice storms, my husband I spend the winter in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. My youngest son and his fiancée are visiting us for a week. So far, the trip has been voted a success. Yesterday’s dinner? Not so much. Here’s how it went down.

Last week, I was doing a happy-dance around our rented condo. My baby boy and his lady-love were coming for a visit. I needed a yummy home-cooked meal to serve. In anticipation of our special guests, I planned meals, shopped, and spent half a day in our cramped condo kitchen preparing my son’s favorite, a tasty chicken casserole dish—the kind with rice and cheese and a creamy sauce. To make it extra-special, I improvised with a few herbs and a handful of garlic.

Most of you are probably familiar with a similar recipe calling for canned cream soup. Because Mexican canned soup is amazingly salty, I decided to make my own creamy cheese sauce using real cheddar (not easy to find down here). Confident that this meal would be a winner, I layered my wine-poached chicken, rice, and sauce, sprinkling liberal amounts of Parmesan cheese and grated Swiss between layers, and topping everything with more cheese and crushed chips before freezing. Incredible!

When we sat down to the promised home-cooked chicken dinner and started to eat, no one said anything. They nibbled in silence. Since my husband doesn’t eat chicken (don’t get me started), he couldn’t warn me of the disaster I’d created. So after sampling my salad and broccoli, I finally took one bite of the chicken casserole. Gagging, I resisted the urge to spit it out.

“Gah!” I yelled, glugging down an entire glass of wine.

In spite of my husband’s look of shock, I drained my glass of water too, then his, before croaking, “Too much salt.”

He gave me an incredulous stare before roaring with laughter. Between snorts of mirth, he said, “You did it again!”

I thunked my head on the table. When he’s right, he’s right. I had most definitely done it again.

Here’s the thing. Mexican salt comes in a shaker container almost exactly the same shape and color as the reduced-fat Parmesan cheese back home. Do you get the picture?

In my defense, I’d cooked and frozen the chicken casserole before the disastrous spaghetti dinner incident.

I can still picture my future daughter-in-law, not wanting to hurt my feelings, bravely trying to choke down the awful stuff.


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