Three of his wife’s sisters married three of my mom’s brothers. Through this weaving of marriages, he evolved into Uncle Edward. There is nothing Uncle Edward loves more than good food. But it’s a lot of work having him over and making sure the food is “good”–especially since his wife’s the best cook ever. (While in boarding school, I was half hour away from them and she would send me Tupperware containers full of her good cooking. The girls in the dorm told me it was an Indian ruse to get me to marry their son, but since good food was right up there on my list of priorities, along with God and air, I took the risk of being trapped into marriage at 16 and enjoyed that wonderful, wonderful food.) Anyway, all the women in the family stressed out when Uncle Edward came to dinner—because no one could compete with his wife.
It’s a treat just to watch him eat: He takes his food very seriously—and reverently walks to the table, pulls up a chair, and adjusts his rotund mid section. Tucking the napkin in his collar, he inspects every dish. From then on, he uses his mouth for nothing else but eating. No conversation whatsoever. At the end of the meal, he graciously burps. And if the food meets his approval, he’ll simply say: “Good food.”
The women would have grated 1000 carrots to know how to get a “Good Food” compliment out of Uncle Edward. But it was the kids who figured it out. He usually said it at Aunty Pauline’s (his sister-in-law and one of the three sisters who married three of my mother’s brothers.—It’s confusing, but this isn’t even the twig of my family tree). Studying graphs and pie charts in school, we had an elaborate plan. We camped at Aunty Pauline’s, itemized her menu, counted the burps, and noted the pronouncement of “Good Food” or the lack of it. Finally, we made the connection: “Good Food” was pronounced only when there was meat on the table!
All that time the aunties were stressing out, the answer was right in front of them. People aren’t hard to figure out—You just have to pay attention to the details.