The penultimate issue of TAC (currently on the website) had several articles on the production of food and the social and cultural benefits of dining as a family that were well worth reading. My mother-in-law, who comes from the north of England, is visiting us in Virginia for a month. It is only day three, but she clearly is already tiring of ossobuco with polenta and similar exotic concoctions. She keeps asking if she can do anything in the kitchen, an obvious attempt to subvert the menu and produce a hash consisting of overcooked beef and potatoes with an indescribable green vegetable mushed on the side. As I am Italian, food is a cardinal virtue and it is difficult to imagine anything describable as “English cuisine.” There is no political dimension to this that I can think of, though my mother-in-law does claim to read “The Daily Mail.” What can one do to keep English people out of the kitchen? Is there some kind of trap that can be set at the door or a powder that can be spread on the threshold that forces a hasty retreat? Our resident poltergeist has reappeared, sending my grandson’s push cart flying across the yard on the Fourth of July. Can poltergeists be somehow be exploited to avoid the horrors of English cooking?