Monday, June 06, 2005

The 'Chicken Pot Pie' Family

According to popular notions, when parents get divorced (or when one is widowed) and then remarries, bringing their children together to create a new family, it is called a blended family.

I don't like the phrase "blended family." You might just think that this is my aversion to anything related to cooking or the kitchen, but it isn't.

Blending involves sharp whirling objects designed to rip things apart as well as have them merge into one flavor, as in 'blend/puree until creamy.' What you get is well, a slimy goo, with one flavor. Think of things like baby food & fruit smoothies. Nothing remains as the original...

Isn't it important for the individuals that make up this new family unit to still feel like individuals? Shouldn't they be able to keep some things that identify themselves, and their former family traditions?

"Blending" doesn't do justice to the the individuals, not the work involved either (dump all, press 'blend' and voila!)

I liken this new family construction to making a chicken pot pie.

Once you break open the flaky crust, you ought to not have 'goo' of indeterminable origins. No, you want to identify the contents: the chicken, the potatoes, the carrots, peas, onions, etc. Each ingredient should also taste like itself - hopefully, even a bit better than if on its own.

Let's say one parent it carrots, one is peas - the veggies. Pea & carrot both need time alone, so they retain their flavor, but as parents, they will need 'veggie time.' Now peas arrived in the pie with child 'potato' & has visitation wither her other child 'onion.' (So, sometimes the pot pie is without onions, sometimes it has onions...) Peas needs to be with her taters & onions, alone, and with each as individuals. Carrots brought along a child, 'chicken.' So, carrot with chicken. Plus, peas & chicken; chicken with potatoes & onions; carrots with potatoes; carrots with onions... anyone else hungry?

Anyway, you see my point of the mixing & pairings... right? Now let's say that peas, potatoes & onions have a set of traditions... or is that a casserole recipe?

Maybe this is too confusing...

But do you get the idea? Peas remain peas. They don't become carrots. Or chicken. Or some liquid pea-carrot-chicken-onion-potato goo. Each individual should remain solid & strong, yet be something better because of all being together.

That is where the gravy comes in.

Gravy is the way all new family members bond. It means including new individuals in the 'old' traditions; it means accepting new ways that are tradition to others. And it means creating new traditions with each other.

Gravy can be tricky. Sometimes it is smooth, other times, even if you do all the right things, it is like lumpy paste... *sigh* But we keep trying.

(In case you were wondering, the 'flaky crust' would represent the physical household: finances, home security etc. Remember to poke holes in the top so the steam can get out! If you have ever made pie crusts, you might understand how delicate that is... And that some families are flakier than others!)
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