The beauty of having both a garden and way too much visual art training manifests itself in many subtle ways, most of them involving dinner. This iteration of inspiration began with the radicchio, arrayed as plump and shiny purple heads in the chicory bed. After a busy day loading frost-leveled detritus into the wheelbarrow for trips to the compost pile, I took stock of what remained: a lot.
There has to be a special circle in Hell reserved for people like me who go to the trouble of marinating chicken in whey for 24 hours and then can’t be bothered to make proper fried chicken with it the following evening. I look forward to seeing what delights await me; I imagine it’s like that scene in Being John Malkovich where Malkovich himself goes through the door except that everybody is Paula Deen and they speak only in emoticons. Probably the frowny face ones with the tears, on account of it’s Hell and all.
A lot of my posts are just descriptions of a single meal, which is a logical format for a blog, especially if one is diligent enough to document them regularly. Ahem. Moving on. I thought that this time around I’d show a little more about how unlike my actual approach to cooking the concept of an isolated, free-standing meal really is.
Look: another sighting of my dinner, rare as hen’s teeth these days. It’s been strange getting back into the regular cooking routine after so long out of it. It’s not the actual making of dinner, which I have not in fact forgotten how to do, but trying to reconcile all the wild flights of culinary fancy that my mind embarked upon while my hands held sandpaper and brushes (rather than knives and pan handles) with the quotidian realities of wandering into the kitchen at 5:30 and making good food from a cold start. So much of what I rely on to lift my meals up a level or two are the various time-intensive processes and ongoing experiments and just plain old leftovers that are in the fridge on any given evening, so it’s taking a little while for those secondary rhythms of production to catch up and I feel a little clumsy.
Bread-baking never stopped, although there were some hiccups. The vinegars are thriving. Cheesemaking is back under way, which is grand, so whey is in the mix, and of course there’s plenty of charcuterie about for mincing into soffriti to lend that lavish depth in an instant: salami, guanciale, duck prosciutto, bresaola, and lardo. And the freezer always has something worth eating in it. What galls me most at this time of year really is the dearth of good vegetables; there are still greens in the garden, sure, and a few roots, but I daydream about being able to walk outside and load up a basket with all the fat bounty that is still invisible over the horizon. This mild hardly winter isn’t helping, either; I keep feeling like I should plant stuff. The birds and spring bulbs are equally confused. I’m sure we’ll get some monster blizzard in a few weeks after everything is all budded out and lose it all.
Meantime, comfort food is still on the menu, though this example was leavened some with a couple of summery ingredients to symbolize my yearning for spring and the ephemerality of life, man.