Copyright 2007 Cowboy
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Does your food taste different lately?

OK Let's Get Started

          If the cuisine around here seems to be moving in a more supple tone, a somewhat feline taste and texture, suggesting fluidity of movement and springing, biting spicy flavors, you can thank me for that. When you look at what is placed before you at mealtime and you don’t know whether to taste it or pet it, you can thank me for that. When that first bite or spoonful has just been swallowed and you just want to say “MEOW!”, you can thank me for that.

You're Welcome

          You see, I have found my niche in this densely populated cat house. Ever since Mum took me in, soon after I was born, right after being weaned, I’ve been looking for a definition of my relationships with all the other indoor kitties and with Mum and Old Muldoon. Mum loves me just like she loves all her other kitties, and Old Muldoon is easier than a cheap date.

           But I have my own sense of needing to make my statement, to fulfill my role here in my own individual style. You see, I am different from the others. They have their own personalities, and mine is also distinct. But mine is a tad more aggressive that all the rest. I want to be involved in something useful in a direct and hands on way. I finally found it. I like joining in with Old Muldoon when he is in the kitchen making meals.

Chef and Sous Chef

          I like the smells of the kitchen when it is in gear, rocking and rolling. I like the look of the kitchen. I like the action of the kitchen. I like the company in the kitchen when Old Muldoon is at work in there. Old Muldoon and I have found that we are very simpatico, kindred spirits so to speak. He is aggressive too. He has his very definite opinions about everything, as do I. We have become real pals. Booger is also his very special pal, and I have to respect that. But he and Booger are early morning visitors with each other, and I come along when it’s kitchen time. Booger and I don’t have to fight over his attention.

          I think it all began to come clear when I decided that my favorite spot in the kitchen was Old Muldoon’s chopping block. It’s a large section of a tree trunk that has been oiled and rubbed smooth. He chops veggies on it. He uses other cutting surfaces for meat and fish. When his knives aren’t flying there, I like to just perch myself on that chopping block and that becomes my vantage point from which to survey everything that is happening in the kitchen. Doctor Muffy asked Old Muldoon if the food here tastes differently because I am perched on that chopping block, and she now refers to me as the secret ingredient – you can just imagine the implications of that description.

My Vantage Point

Can't Wait To Taste Those Meatballs

          There are also other places where from time to time I will establish my presence in the kitchen. Old Muldoon doesn’t mind and other people don’t have to know. It’s kind of like when you drop some chopped onion on the floor by accident and pick it up and look around to see if anyone is watching before you decide whether to throw it in the pan or in the trash. Mum knows but pretends that she doesn’t see it.

Did He Just Drop Something

           I also get to patrol the kitchen counters after the meal is served, and I look for and enjoy little crumbs and smidgens of this or that. When I am done, the counters look clean and everyone thinks that Old Muldoon is very careful about keeping his kitchen surfaces immaculate. Little do they know. When people are visiting who claim that they are allergic to cats, I have to stay out of sight until they leave. They never have any adverse reactions. So it is rather obvious that what they don’t know about they aren’t allergic to. Is there such a thing as a non cognitive allergic reaction? If you didn’t see the allergy report on the morning news, would you ever get clogged up? Old Muldoon says that people have been conditioned to feel allergic for generations, and that this was engineered by drug companies to make them buy allergy medicines that don’t work anyway. He tried to get Dr. Muffy to specialize in allergies, telling her that all you need is to rent office space, write prescriptions for allergy treatment courses that last years, and then take up golf so that you have something to do between trips to the bank to make deposits.

           All my licking of countertops, and scrounging of smidgens of food dropped or left here and there before final cleanup after every meal have exposed my to a rather wide variety of tastes and textures. Most of these are preferences that I have in common with Old Muldoon, but of course that would be the case since he wouldn’t be cooking anything he didn’t like. He and I both like just about any kind of meat – chicken, fish, pork, veal, beef. I bet I’d like rabbit too, but Mum won’t eat rabbit, so it never gets prepared in our kitchen. But I’ve heard Old Muldoon talk about how much he likes rabbit, and I have also, of course, heard all his joking around about how everything that’s weird somehow tastes just like chicken. I like bread too. The bread around here is always artisenal with crunchy crusts and toothsome in the middle, like old fashion bread that folks – so I hear – used to eat a long time ago. The best bread is always the bread that High Fibre Hoffman bakes and brings over as a good will offering. He never comes over empty handed or empty headed. I don’t even mind some spiciness, but I can’t hack fruit or vinegar, and I hate wine. I can’t understand how he drinks that crap. He just loves it. There aren’t any cats still alive here who remember when he used to drink martinis, but from what I hear, I doubt I could handle those either. I hear that old Oscar used to snuggle up with him in his fat boy chair over martinis, and Mum said that Oscar would eat Texas chili, but I never heard that Oscar ever actually drank a martini.

          I and my sister, Little Girl, have our own private bedroom. We don’t sleep amongst the other kitties here because we are too nocturnally energetic. The others are more sedentary than we, and they are content to retire when Mum and Old Muldoon turn in - but not us. We are night owls and would gleefully run around the house and tear everything up most of the night were we not put into our own private quarters. We have plenty of room and toys to play around with in that rather spacious room, so it isn’t really a bother at all.

          It is December as I start to write this story, so we are approaching Christmas, a very happy time here. Old Muldoon’s birthday is in December also, so much of the entire month is consumed in celebratory activity, especially the preparation of really sumptuous meals. Stock pots are frequently going, and stocks are being differently seasoned in different smaller pots for various soups, sauces, stews and braises. Roasts are rubbed with herbs and garlic and Chef Muldoon’s special spice mix, The Belinda Blend. When something goes into the oven the aromas here are unbelievably divine. Of course, corks are also frequently pulled from wine bottles so that they can “air out”/breathe and be ready for sipping whenever anyone might be in the mood.

          I put my nose into everything. No good cook would ever remain aloof from what is to be prepared, and I am no exception. Everything must be tasted before it is presented to anyone else, and I enjoy the taste of anything new. So, if you are a guest here at meal time, you may rest assured that The Cowboy has personally vetted whatever it is that you are enjoying.

This Needs More Salt

          Right now Old Muldoon is contemplating his birthday luncheon at his favorite Latin restaurant in Houston, Sylvia’s. It will be a small affair, but he is debating (and we have discussed) whether he should appear wearing funny clothes and a stupid looking hat and pretend that he has Alzheimer’s disease – stare vacantly into space and pretend to be slow to comprehend and react to his surroundings and tell stories about things that he experienced long ago that are of interest to absolutely no one.

Birthday Boy and Toys

          High Fibre Hoffman and Loretta will be there, and it is not likely that High Fibre will let Old Muldoon steal the show without participating in some even more humorous manner. The two of them know every dirty limerick that has ever been recited anywhere on the planet in the last 70 years, and they will willingly recite every one of them for the delectation of everyone in the building at the slightest suggestion, whether or not anyone wants to hear them. High Fibre can always outdo Old Muldoon in any contest of oratorical diversity, because he knows all about, and will instantly launch upon a recitation regarding Avogadro’s number, Ockham’s Razor (Pluralitas non est ponenda sine neccesitate'') and other assorted arcane mathematical subjects that he has mastered just to be ever ready to one up anyone on earth.

          After the birthday luncheon, Old Muldoon and I played one of our favorite games, called Tooth Brushing. He goes into the bathroom to brush his teeth and I go in there with him. I jump up on the counter, and while he is busily brushing his teeth, I play in the running tap water and in the water in the sink. He knows that I really enjoy this game a great deal, so he prolongs the brushing so that I may have more time to play in the water. The result, we just learnt today, is that this longer time spent brushing his teeth and massaging his gums with the toothbrush has produced the best report he has ever had regarding his overall oral health. The symbiosis of this relationship has many dimensions.

Brushing Our Teeth

          Booger and I consider ourselves to be his emotional escape hatch through which he may from time to time – every day – escape from the unbelievable lack of stress in his life. We only know what we have heard from time to time, snippets of conversations here and there, from which we have been given to believe that he once lead a very stressful life. It was once said to him by someone who knew him well that if the stress ever let up on him, he might crack. Having all those years thrived on stress, he has these last almost 17 years been practically stress free, except for the odd moment here and there. The problem, we believe, with this situation is that when you are stressed, you know that you are on someone’s mind – maybe several people – who have an adverse agenda against which you must defend yourself. When you then become relatively stress free, it’s as if all of a sudden no one cares about you any more. So you need to be able simply to turn to someone who has no conflict and is constantly at your service to drop everything and simply demonstrate concern about you. That is the role played in Old Muldoon’s life by Booger and me. Mum is there for him, to be sure, but sometimes she is busy. We are never busy. Our time and our attentions are our own to bestow as we may please. We have adopted him, and share him between ourselves throughout each day, either giving him gratuitous cuddles or being with him in some participatory manner when he is working in the kitchen or brushing his teeth, as it were.

          Consequently, he is the happiest of men, and it is certain in this world that happy people are healthy people. He is both. He jokingly claims that it is the consequence of red meat and red wine, but we know better. Right now, for example, he has found something new to celebrate this day, a day when he has just removed an enormous fresh leg of pork from his smoker where it gently hickory smoked all night long for about 15 hours. He is celebrating that, with the change in control of Congress from Republican to Democrat, the changing tax policy to remove tax breaks favoring those who make over $ 500,000 a year, he has nothing to worry about.

          Distractions! Distractions! Distractions! As I am writing this we realize that on the early morning of Old Muldoon’s birthday yesterday, there was a meteor shower in the early morning eastern sky, and at that very moment, Mama Kitty had four more kittens! So right now Mama Kitty and her four new born kittens are getting a lot of attention that by rights should be going to us. From the look of them, it is obvious that the father is that grotesque looking stray tom cat named Michael Jackson, a really disgusting looking cat that happens to make really cute kitties when Mama Kitty is his partner. Now I suppose one of them will be named Seamus because they were born on Old Muldoon’s birthday. If Mum names one of them Seamus, Old Muldoon will want to name one of them Belinda – I just know it. I hope they don’t name any of them Don Rumsfeld or Barak Obama. Actually, if one does turn out to have really big, protruding ears, they just might name it Barak Obama, or Wing Nut. Don’t mind me. I’m just joking around here.

          Excuse me if I sound overly exuberant, but I just had a taste of that smoked pork leg, and I can hardly stop licking my lips – that wonderful, moist/greasy taste of a juicy haunch fresh from the smoker, perfectly seasoned, is simply more than he or I can resist. We are both stuffing it into our mouths and making grunting, slurping sounds like the primitive beasts we wish we were. Oh God – this is soooo good!

          I look forward, as any young kitty would do, to a long and loving relationship with everyone here, but especially with Old Muldoon. Mum is right when she insists that cookin endures longer than kissin – except that I do see them kissing a lot. I didn’t think that the boss was supposed to be hugging and kissing the cook, but you know what they say – “Familiarity breeds.” But at their age, the only thing that is getting bred around here is Mama Kitty. The four new kittens now have tentative names – Sissy, Prissy, Blondie and Butterbean.

          Gotta go now. I need to check out a big red pot before we make soup in it tonight.

My Favorite Red Pot

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