The chorizo from last month is finally ready for eating as is. I’ve used a couple for cooking while they were still soft in the middle, but now they’re firm all the way through. I celebrated by making the sort of lunch that I would happily eat every day, and which neatly encapsulates my motivation for spending all the time that I do making all this food from scratch: pleasure.
A few weeks ago, I took two small Camemberts and wrapped them in grape leaves instead of cheese wrap. There’s a cheese from my old neighborhood in France called Banon that I adore; it’s pungent and complex and very seductive. I don’t have any chestnut leaves handy, so the grapes presented themselves as a logical alternative since they’re all over the place. I misted the cheeses with a little local apple brandy, and wrapped them in leaves with twine.
They aged for three weeks. Yesterday I made a batch of white/whole wheat bread dough, and once risen I shaped it into a ficelle and a baguette, though both were shorter than normal so they’d fit on my peel. I sprinkled the baguette with sesame seeds before scoring it.
And then I went and fetched a cheese and some chorizo from the wine fridge where everything ages now that it’s hot outside.
The chorizo is bright and spicy, with a chewy texture and a lingering smokiness from the paprika. The cheese is funky as holy hell, with a lovely fruity overtone from the brandy and grape leaves. The two together on the crusty sourdough were fantastic: each flavor asserts itself enough to not be overwhelmed by the other, and they harmonize in all sorts of complicated ways. I should have taken this outside to eat it, sitting on the grass under a tree, with nothing but a pocket knife and a glass of rosé, but that will have to wait. Even indoors, the satisfaction of having made this archetypal peasant lunch from scratch, by hand, and with almost entirely local ingredients (everything but the spices) was profound. Food like this contains enormous flavor; it’s dense with information and nutrition and the living organisms that made it turn out that way. A little bit, savored lovingly, makes a meal.
It’s funny how excited I get at having made something so basic, and how “basic” is actually infinitely complex. Making food like this has changed my relationship with time a little; since it all requires weeks or months to mature, I try to always have something aging, drying, fermenting, or curing at any given time. That way, even though the combinations change, there’s always meat and cheese to be had and shared on short notice, with a pickle or two to accompany them. These weekly rituals are delayed gratification at first, but when the cheese is ripe and the salami is dry the incentive to continue becomes impossible to ignore. It will be November before I get to try my first cheddar, but by then I should have a dozen waxed wheels in the fridge, with another ready to eat every two weeks or so. And tomorrow I’m going out to pick, blanch, and salt a whole bunch of grape leaves.