After a fairly long hiatus during which I have cooked nothing more complicated than baked chicken and mashed potatoes, I think I will be ready to cook again next week. Barring unforeseen complications or setbacks, I think we’re looking at a week that includes homemade Bolognese sauce, a quick but authentic Chicken Korma, Red Beans & Rice, “Real” Macaroni and Cheese, Indonesian Ginger Chicken and Italian Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches. Until I actually cook something again, I’ll try to regale you with some thoughts and observations I have recently had about a number of food-related things. Did you really think I spent a lot of time thinking about the stock market or the NCAA Final Four?!
Here are some of my most cogent, prescient, notions from the past day or so:
- The Grapple. At the grocery store last week, I saw a four apples packaged together in what appeared to be a small greenhouse worth of plastic, and the label said that they were Grapples (“say Grape-l”) and that they were apples that tasted like grapes. How I wrestled with my demons there, while blocking the apple aisle. I like apples that taste like apples, I like grapes that taste like grapes, my kid (the market target-ee) tends to agree, the packaging was alarming from an environmental point of view, and the price was ridiculously high. But. But, you know, I wanted to know what they tasted like. So I bought, and we bit. (Or is it the other way around?). Here is the Grapple Report: they smell and taste like artificial grape flavoring, they are a little mealy for my taste, and they go bad far faster than regular apples. Save your money and buy real apples and grapes. We are, by the way, going to use the absurd packaging to create a small greenhouse for the start of our spring lettuce and tomato crops.
- The Drunken Noodle Throwdown? Recently (well, before I stopped actually cooking anything for a while) I have become obsessed with making a Thai dish called “Drunken Noodles.” I have made the recipe three times, tinkering with the salt levels and the amount of blazing heat, and I really believe that it has the potential to cure spiritual ills, disinfect wounds, and inspire great works of art. It is because of the high regard in which I hold the Drunken Noodles that I was delighted to find them on the menu of our favorite local Thai place. I have Pad Thai for comfort, or something really hot when I’m happy, but that day I knew that I had to order the Drunken Noodles to find out what they were really supposed to taste like, made authentically. Here’s the thing: mine are better. There was nothing terrible wrong with the dish I was served; it was rice noodles, meat and some vegetables in a sort of mild, brown sauce, but there was no fire, no contrast between the heat of the peppers and the silk of the noodles. Maybe “Bon Apetit” and I got it all wrong, but for now, I win the Drunken Noodle Throwdown.
- Jello Molds. Yesterday I had lunch with my delightful friend Malia, and for some reason we ended up discussing gelatin salads – you know, the ones that have carrots and cream cheese and nuts and all manner of flora and fauna trapped under gelatin in a coordinating color. In my family of origin they are referred to as “Jewish Tires,” but I also know families of Lutherans, Methodists and Mormons who have been confronted with these specimens at potlucks, post-funeral meals, wedding showers and, well, dinner. My point, and I do have one, is that I wonder whether there are people who actually like to eat these things, or whether, like certain pieces of music, art and architecture, the message of the creator is not easily communicated to the audience. It is an astonishing feat of physics to get an almond suspended in every scallop of the mold, but does it taste good? Does anybody say to herself “thank the Lord there’s a Jello mold with celery, carrots and walnuts, because otherwise I might be stuck eating just hot dish and macaroni salad and coconut cream pie”? Just wondering.
That’s all for now; if you keep coming back, you might actually see a recipe or something about food I have actually prepared with my own hands….