Eating with my English born in-laws was always interesting.
I remember the first Thanksgiving we spent with them. There was a bowl of something bright orange on the table resembling baby food. I wasn't far off, as it was mashed carrots. I'd never had them that way before and have never had them that way since, I'm quite happy to say. My brother-in-law and I had to make our own pumpkin pie, as she was making trifle for dessert. For Thanksgiving! Not that her trifle wasn't good, it was. But it was Thanksgiving, and there were just some traditions that couldn't be overlooked.
Not ones for spicy, Asian or adventurous, our meals with them were usually pretty tame and mainstream. Though they did appreciate good Italian food.
My husband talked fondly about his mother's Swiss chard casserole and zucchini pancakes from his childhood, two things I was fortunate enough not to ever have to try. However, I was not fortunate enough to get to try the roast beef and Yorkshire pudding he raved about.
Eating out was always an experience. My mother-in-law, though I loved her, was extremely difficult to please. Wait staff were rarely good enough, and the meals ordered rarely met her expectations. She was not shy about her displeasure, either. Which left me, the people-pleasing-conflict-avoider, squirming in my chair and slipping extra tips to the waiter.
Looking at menus often included conversations like this:
MIL: What are you thinking of having?
FIL: I'm thinking of A.
MIL: Oh, I was thinking of B.
FIL: That sounds nice.
MIL: Why don't you get C and I'll get B and we can share.
FIL: Yes, dear.
And so she got half of two menu items she wanted and he got half of two menu items she wanted. He was a saint.
On particular time I remember, she ordered a blue cheese burger, and with roughly three bites left, declared it really wasn't very good, wasn't cooked quite right. Not very good, but good enough to demolish, apparently.
We all have our own little idiosyncrasies. In fact, I'm sure I have more than my fair share. I loved them both, and their peculiarities.
There was a time to eat and drink, however, that we all shared with equal enthusiasm. Five o'clock was a daily ritual with them. Quite honestly, it didn't really matter what you ate at 5:00, because you were having it with a drink. Crackers, chips, cheese and meat, didn't matter. It all tasted good with a drink. Their drink of choice was beer. It went something like this:
MIL: Is it time for Fivesies?
FIL: Yes, dear, it is. Would you like a beer?
MIL: I'll just have half of yours.
FIL: Yes, dear.
He would proceed to pull a can of Old Milwaukee Light out of the refrigerator and pour half of it into a glass for her. Did I mention he was a saint? Of course, half a beer doesn't last very long.
MIL: Shall we share one more?
FIL: Yes, dear.
And the process would be repeated, in the end each of them having consumed one beer, her declaring she'd had 'half a beer'. Which she had. Twice. I always laughed to myself and thought it humorous that they didn't just each have their own beer. But it was their ritual, and it was them through and through.
My husband or I will occasionally look at the clock and declare it time for Fivesies with a smile and a nod to my late in-laws.