Food prep gets a little more intense around my house in the summertime. During the school year I rely heavily on a woman named Rosa at the Rye High cafeteria.
By Annabel Monaghan
Food prep gets a little more intense around my house in the summertime. During the school year I rely heavily on a woman named Rosa at the Rye High cafeteria. By ‘heavily’ I mean she feeds two of my kids 15 meals a week. I have never laid eyes on Rosa but she means the world to my kids, especially my middle son, Tommy, for whom she makes both breakfast and lunch every day. Now that those fifteen meals fall back to me, Rosa is like a ghostly presence in my kitchen, a standard by which I am judged.
It’s remarkable that a 14-year-old kid would want to get to school 30 minutes early every day just for a bacon and egg sandwich. But apparently it’s that good. My husband dreams of going to breakfast with Tommy just to see what all the fuss is about, and I’ve contemplated sending Guy Fieri and his team in there with cameras to see how it’s done.
It’s the food, but it’s also the attitude. Rosa knows that Tommy doesn’t like cheese, so she separately prepares a bacon and egg sandwich and has it waiting for him when he arrives in the morning. At some point in their relationship, the two of them agreed that a hash brown would be a welcome addition to this sandwich and, poof, there it was on top of the egg for ever after.
Apparently Rosa doesn’t understand that Tommy is the middle child. He is not supposed to have his preferences catered to. He’s not even really supposed to have preferences. The middle child waits for everyone else’s needs to be met. He’s a coper, a buffer, and the one who says, “I’ll have what everyone else wants” when we are deciding what to eat. The middle child is the family anchor, steadfast in his okay-ness while everything else spins around him. This is one of the reasons why people tend to adore the middle child.
Parents often worry about strangers. But we don’t expect that there’s someone out there lurking who cares about our kids’ breakfast satisfaction more than we do, someone who goes out of her way to make him feel welcome and acknowledged. I never imagined that my son was being treated so kindly and with such personal care that he’d be ruined forever.
So I’m spending my summer trying to measure up. During the first several days of summer vacation, I tried to replicate Rosa’s sandwich and failed on technicalities. Imade “the wrong kind of eggs” (scrambled) and then tried many varieties (poached, sunny side up) before Tommy recognized Rosa’s eggs as fried. I could taste victory, until he shook his head sadly at his breakfast, “Rosa breaks the yolks.”
Rosa, where are you? You can’t just spoil my kid and disappear! We have two months of summer left and I was just told that, even though I fried the egg and broke the yolk, my sandwich is too “eggy.” What does that even mean? I’m going to keep at it, but I guarantee you he’s looking forward to seeing you back at school where things are done right.