Thursday, July 1, 2010

Poetry of Food

Even if processed food were healthy and tasty I wouldn't eat it because it would deprive me of the profound pleasure of preparing my own meals. Cooking for one is self-love.

This morning I walked to the Italian Market, picked out the eggplant, zucchini, onion peppers and mushrooms for a ratatouille. This evening I spent a wonderful hour cutting and peeling and slicing and tasting raw vegetables. This time I made it in layers rather than as a chunky stew. Sautéed each ingredient in olive oil one at a time, then set them aside in separate dishes. Reduced some red wine in the skillet used for the veggies. Put the veggies in a larger pan: eggplant slices, then garlic and onions (cut in rings), then peppers and squash (nice thick sections), then tomatoes and lots of basil cilantro and parsley from my yard, repeating this layer by layer. Poured the reduced wine over it all when done, covered and let it simmer until the thick piece of eggplant I'd left at the top as a test was tender--but not soggy.

I filled a bowl (using a slotted spoon)... and eating it as I type-- with a glass of red table wine and hunks of crispy crust baguette from Artisan’s Boulangerie down the block.

Would I give this up for 'convenience?' For "saving time?" (what an insane idea--'saving time' What? You put time in Mason Jars? Store it in the freezer? (Just collect the CRAZY nonsensical cliches people use without thought to see how totally INSANE this so-called civilization/EMPIRE we live in is! As though we could 'save' or 'waste' TIME!)

I'll drain the pot in a colander before putting the rest in the fridge, saving the liquid and putting that in another container. When it's cold, I'll skim off the congealed oil at the top, put it aside for bread and toast. So much olive oil, you need to separate it before storing

Oh.. the mushrooms! Clean and dry, cut stem tips, cut in half if large. When dish is almost ready, skim out some of the juice and oil from top into the skillet you used to sauté everything, turn up heat, add mushrooms. After about a minute, add to the pot.

For me a 'recipe' (I don't actually use recipes--it's what you DO that matters, the prep work) is like one of Conrad's Soma(tic) Exercises... and the food is the poem!


  1. I'll be goddammed. I retract my long-held prejudicial belief about the incompetency of Irishmen in the kitchenette (or in your case, Pullman's kitchen). You really do sound like you know your way around a simmering melange. And the fancy, almost French way you write, I imagine the clean-up would be almost as rewarding as the mess-making. I stand corrected (and by a Barking Dog, at that)! It's like something from a Kirsten Bakis novel. You beast!

  2. Hey, can't be a good cook without learning to clean up as you go.

    Takes two things to be a good creative improvisational cook: technique and synesthesia...being able to taste a certain combination just by thinking about it.

    I inherited the technique from my son. Synesthesia goes with being from a family of artists.

    Nothing more important for my mental health than being able to cook well. Without that, no anti-depressant would save me from despair.