Family dinners can be… overwhelming. Long. Intense. Loud.
I made the mistake of inviting my brother and father to dinner at my house while my father’s girlfriend is out of town. When she doesn’t cook we all assume my father doesn’t eat. After I sent out the invitation I immediately wanted to rescind it. Don’t misunderstand me, I love my family. I talk to my father daily and I try to communicate with my brother regularly. It can be a little difficult because sometimes the carrier pigeons can’t find him. But my family can be a lot when they are in the same room together.
There’s always a lot of shouting. A lot of gestures. A lot of noise. Growing up I thought that was normal but now that I am older and have seen how other families communicate, I recognize it for what it is.
But sometimes in the middle of the night I miss the constant movement and noise. I miss the slamming doors and conversations across four different rooms. I miss a house full of people.
Until they are in my house.
Then I want to open the door and fling myself out on the lawn.
So, my genius plan was to invite them to an early lunch that ended well before the game (what game, you ask? Any game. My father likes them all.) and before weekend traffic from the coast ramps up (because the boy won’t drive in traffic). Dinner was on the table, eye numbingly sweet iced tea in the cooler and watermelon ready for the cutting at 1 pm.
We didn’t eat until 2.
They didn’t leave until 4 pm.
They ruined my plans.
A lot happened in those two hours. Most of it was loud. Apparently, we could be heard halfway down the block. Most of it were the same nonsense fights we have been having for years. And while we were disturbing the neighbors, which is saying a lot for the neighborhood I live in, they ate the food.
Boom. Mic Drop. I win.
Feeding my family is not easy. My brother hates everything I make on principle. I do not know why. He just does. My father has zero taste buds. Long story short, he used to be a smoker, he thinks black pepper is the perfect condiment for every possible meal you can eat, and he does not understand that red pepper does not need to follow black pepper to the table.
For some reason, they loved the rice, peas and seafood concoction. My father had several bowls (always a glowing review) and my brother said he didn’t hate it. I personally agree. This is a good recipe. And, as usual, quick to assemble and put on the table. It’s not one of my most versatile recipes. There are only a few vegetables I think you could substitute if you didn’t have or like peas. (asparagus is a good idea. But isn’t it always.) However, you can play with the spices, which I encourage. I used fresh wild-caught fish but I assume that frozen would be acceptable in this dish.
P.S. I added more salt to my dish because I like my rice salty but for most people the salt in the broth is sufficient. I always top this dish with fresh parsley (from my garden) and a squirt of fresh lemon because it adds that extra special specialness.