If your kids grow up to be happy with Taco Bell, best of luck to them.
There are many reasons that two adults get together and decide at some point that they want to bring children into the world. You want to carry on the family name. You want to be part of your own family and share, together, the ultimate joy that is giving birth to and, then, raising kids. You want to shape young lives that in many ways are in your image, but maybe your kids will go off and grow up to be nothing like you, or nothing like you ever imagined they would. But that's OK, that's acceptable. You have had children and raised them as best as you could.
And you've molded them and even manipulated their development, at least until they reach a point where the reins are off and they can become whatever they want to be, believe what they want to believe, and think what they want to think.
It's a monumental thing placed on the shoulders of parents everywhere. What will your kids grow up to like? What will they grow up to dislike, even despise? What will they hold near and dear to their hearts? What will they casually dismiss with nary a second thought? What will they care about? What will they be passionate about? Will they be religious? Will they be spiritual at all? What sports teams will they cheer for? Who will they vote for on Election Day? Will they vote at all? Will they be current events hounds...sponges who can't soak up enough information as they go about their daily lives? Or will they be largely unaware of what's going on in the world around them, and be basically apathetic over that fact? What will they be remembered for?
And, of course, how will they like their meat?
To steal a line from the film "Pulp Fiction," are our kids going to live their lives wanting their meat "burned to a crisp" or "bloody as hell"? While parents are very likely to shape their kids' thinking well into their adult lives on things like politics and religion, is there another thing kids learn in childhood that sticks with them for life more than how they like their meat cooked?
This is beyond how it's cooked, though; this is about raising kids who appreciate a tasty piece of properly prepared meat, or raising kids who are more than content, when they grow up, to buy some generic piece of cheap meat and cook it beyond recognition in some haphazard fashion, dunk it in ketchup or some other mainstream condiment, and call it a worthy meal.
Steak. It's about steak, of course. Sure, a good burger can be especially satisfying, and it's possible to do wondrous things with a chicken breast or hunk of pork. But this comes down to steak. What cuts of steak will satisfy our kids well into their adulthood, and how will they want it cooked or, better yet, how much will they demand of themselves as grillmasters when they drop a tasty slab of red meat on the grill in the backyard, when their very own kids are watching and, the thinking goes, learning life lessons of their own.
This all occurred to me the other day, now that the worldwide Mexican fast food franchise Taco Bell has hired "world class chef" Lorena Garcia, who, food consumers are being told, is going make the Taco Bell located at the corner of your block home to some of the best cuts of mouth-watering "Cantina Steak" this side of butcher Harvey Straw at the late, great Harvey's Market.
The radio is running commercials every ten minutes that feature Garcia talking about the new Cantina Steak Burrito. She's apparently pretty demanding, she says, as she details how she's been presented with the latest incarnations of the Taco Bell steak, and has continually rejected them, sending the Taco Bell kitchen grunts back to the drawing board a whopping nine times with demands that the steak be "Thicker!", "More tender!" and possess "More flavor!"
It's so tragic it's almost cute.
I'm trying to get our sons to dig a tender, almost-bloody as hell steak now and then. My wife wasn't a meat lover in the least when I met her, but she appreciates a tasty New York strip or ribeye seasoned and cooked up just right on the grill.
But the boys? They're a work in progress. At least they have the decency to not drown their steak in ketchup.
I'm a product of my upbringing, of course, and that upbringing included a lot of rare steak. As a result, I'm an adult who can't imagine why anyone would bother spending a single penny of their hard-earned dollar on a steak that they intend to cook until the cow's dead 100 times over.
But I'm a little concerned about the boys. "No offense to grandpa, but do we have to have a huge steak every time we go to the lake?" our oldest said one day this past summer, as he conveniently forgot about the countless burgers and bratwursts on the grill that he's eaten at Maple Lake.
Maybe I should make him suffer through a few Cantina Steak Burritos so he can appreciate accordingly the level of his exposure to high-quality, perfectly cooked steak throughout his relatively brief existence on this planet.