"God showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand… and it was round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought: 'What can this be?' And it was generally answered thus: 'It is all that was made.' It was so small I thought it might disappear, but I was answered... everything has being through the love of God." --Julian of Norwich

Friday, June 25, 2010

Food and Me #6: The Kitchen

Now, I'd like to talk a little bit about cooking.  I've always felt a little... insecure... about cooking.  I never really did it that often until I got married.  Then, suddenly, I had this very hungry person to feed every night (since that was our agreement).  I tried cooking a little more, you know, starting out with Trader Joe's style reheating, and slowly building up to recipes in my favorite Whole Foods for the Whole Family.  And I had some disasters.  You know, where things are inedible because of their high carbon content.  Or when the eggs in the casserole refuse to set.  And for a long time I was absolutely crushed by those failures.  The housewife demon whispered in my ear many, many nasty things.  I was convinced for a while that I was a terrible wife destined to a miserable chore.  And I hated all those show-off women who made like 4 course gourmet meals and stuff.  They had to be doing it just to make me jealous.

But then I would have a good day, where the food was on the table before I began to feel faint and dizzy with spinning around in my tiny kitchen, where there was enough to feed a hungry man and a few hungry friends.  I started to actually look forward to the meals, and even more to the yummy leftovers that I planned for lunches.

And then, one day, I was cutting beets and beet greens for a borscht.  They were fresh from the farmers market and they were the most amazing colors I had ever seen in my life.  Burgundy and green.  If you've ever seen me in person, you probably know that my favorite color is red.  Well, those little ruby chunks of crisp antioxident yumminess laid on a perfectly complimenting bed of green took my breath away.  I am not doing this experience any justice at all in prose form, I shall have to try writing a poem about it in the poetry class I start next week.  Those beets were pure poetry.  Beauty incarnate.  Sexy as a woman in a red dress.  They were so alive.

I'm starting to realize that most of the ingredients we start with are quite the opposite.  No wonder we hate cooking.

So all this culminated, the Friday night a little over a week before the food course started, in me remembering that experience with the beets after months of cooking exhaustion because of all the things I can't eat now.  I had an eggplant and a thawed fryer chicken in my fridge that needed to be eaten tonight.  So I started thinking.  The recipes I had previously planned just didn't have that je ne sais quoi.  I flipped open my crisp new copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and sent my hungry husband to buy a bottle of white wine and a pound of butter.  While he was away I started chopping.  Once the butter arrived we could start frying (I made Clint help here). Three hours later, at like 8pm (no wonder Europeans eat so late!), Clint and I sat down to the most amazing meal I had ever cooked in my whole life:  Sauteed Chicken in a white wine, mushroom and tomato sauce and ratatouille provencale.  But the best part was the process...

But you'll have to wait to hear about that.

What's the most amazing/enjoyable meal you've made?  What made it so much fun?


  1. the best meal I ever cooked: toss up a between a chicken mole (cooking with chocolate, what could be better!) and peach and onion pork chops that I made one night in Macedonia.

  2. Hi Josh! It was bad form for me not to respond to your comment oh so long ago. The Chicken Mole sounds amazing. And peach and onion pork chops... in Macedonia... Isn't it amazing how good food creates very distinctive memories for us? It really strikes us at the core of who we are. I have a very happy memory of making Spanish-style saffron chicken for you and Cindy at the Big Yellow House. :)