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The Maximalist(s)

August 26, 2013

I’ve long considered myself  a maximalist.

Mostly, this has to do with toppings for ice cream or sandwiches. Given the choice to have a sandwich with ham and cheese and mustard and bread — that’s 4 ingredients — or a sandwich with cherry peppers and those shaved onions and avocado and mayo and salt and pepper and vinegar and oil and shredded lettuce and maybe some sort of cheese or meat, I’d take the one with cherry peppers and everything else every time. The cheese and meat are often incidental. They get in the way of my toppings.

When I was growing up, there was a sandwich place called D’Angelo’s in my town. At first, they just served pocket sandwiches. I’d rather do just about anything than eat a pocket sandwich, but number 9 on the roster had shaved steak and American cheese. You could get onions and pepper if you wanted. You could get mushrooms. You could get lettuce and tomato. You could get chopped hot peppers, the stinging vinegar they were packed in adding a wonderful acid component. You could get salt and pepper. (You could get mayonnaise, but everyone has to draw the line somewhere, and on that sandwich that was overkill. On most sandwiches, I would indeed pull the trigger on mayonnaise.)

And then one day, they stopped identifying as just a pocket sandwich restaurant and started to serve sandwiches on sub rolls. It was a life changing moment. Nothing is identified by numbers there anymore, but the name “Number 9” lives on.

When I make burgers at home, I exhaust even myself providing little bowls or plates of things to dress them with. But that is how I like my burgers. I start by dicing onions and cooking them in butter. Then I salt and pepper the meat and squoosh the butter-cooked onions through. I cut tomato, spice up mayo with chipotle or sriracha, sautee mushrooms. There is lettuce available, for crunch. Cheddar or Swiss. Ketchup.

My husband is a bit more measured.

We have 2 kids, each with lots of qualities of their own. It’s a fun family game to attribute a behavior to one side or the other. Sleeping late? That’s my side. Throwing a tantrum when someone tries to help you? Husband. A child begging to use the vacuum? I won’t say who that is, but I will say that it’s not me.

The little vacuumer is great at cleaning up the garden, but he has become a minimalist. He will scream at me for, say, including cheese in his quesadilla. Or for including a hot dog in his hot dog bun — you know, doing bad stuff like that. But the one year old is still a good eater. People in restaurants often approach me to marvel at her capacity. She is a very petite child, but this has nothing to do with her eating habits. She slept horribly as a young baby. Clarification: she slept Guinness Book of World Records horribly. The first night I ever remember her sleeping well was when she sat in a chair and ate dinner for a full uninterrupted 90 minutes. If I recall correctly, it was hundreds and hundreds of small fistfuls of smoked salmon risotto with marscapone cheese. She kept being willing to eat more, and I kept giving her more. Then she slept through the night. Now i feed her as if she were Muhammad Ali nearly every night. She is still svelte, but now she is a glossy-furred good sleeper, too.

When she’s not stuffing her face, she’s stuffing her arms: her other focus is collecting stuffed animals in her bed. I suspect her to be a maximalist. I suspect that she is the kid who might want not chocolate, or not rainbow, but chocolate AND rainbow sprinkles on her ice cream a few years down the line. Ketchup, mustard, relish AND onions on her hot dog.

But for now she’s got the bear and the dog and the other dog and the turtle and the zebra and the cow and the babydoll. And the rabbit and the lizard. And before you lift her out of her crib in the morning, she will hand you each one and deliver a personal thank you for taking each baby, and for holding onto it until she’s out and can grab them all from you again.

The Maximalist likes to run with her whole crew. And who can blame her?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Amy Daniewicz permalink
    August 28, 2013 8:22 pm

    I remember your term “maximalist” and think of it with a smile every time I make tacos or fajitas or any other million-tiny-bowl meal. 🙂 Did you know my husband is Korean? They are the ultimate maximalists!

  2. December 7, 2013 11:15 am

    I used to heart D’Angelo’s burgers!!!

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