Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kitchen Confessional

I love to eat. Whether it's cheap Tex-Mex (photo: Aranda's Taqueira, 2005) or fine dining. I eat all veggies. I love steamed fresh Brussels sprouts, al dente haricots verts. Not as big a fan of English Peas. I love delicate little gourmet dishes with precious bits of sauce piped on in fanciful swirls. Foie gras? Bring it on? Your spinach, green bean or sweet potato casserole. Sure, I'll have some. Fish cooked in paper. Things expertly grilled.

I'm not a huge fan of rich desserts heavy with cream and chocolate, but sure I'll have a bite.

However. I have a phobia for cooking. Now I'll go into the kitchen. Because that's where people keep the coffee maker, the beer and the chips, jalapenos and Costco shredded cheese for nachos. Oh and fresh fruit, crackers, cheese and other snacks.

Some coffee-making is somewhat complex but I've always persevered. I'm kind of like those crack addicts delicately boiling stuff in a spoon. Not sure what's that's all about but it is obviously necessary like the methods for extracting coffee flavor into water that are essential to my addiction. We do what we have to do.

I can also boil water. I'm uncomfortable if you want me to then add pasta but I will boil eggs. My technique: put eggs in salted, cold water. Bring to boil. Turn off heat, cover and leave for 15 minutes. Cool in running water. Peel. I'll save my recipes for deviled egg variations for another day.

But about those deviled eggs. Yeah. Chopping and mixing aren't so bad. My resistance arises when heat and timings and butchering and carving and all that are mentioned. With deviled eggs if you get the eggs cooked and the halves neatly divested of the yolks (start with extras because some will be failures) then you just have to mix whatever with the yolks and put some of the mixture back in the halves. Chopping, mixing, but no more application of heat, no turning, flipping, etc.

God forbid you want me to do baking where things have to rise and be mixed in proper proportions, etc. Better a skillet saute dinner where things can just flow and you can see the onions become translucent.

I like to stand in the kitchen and chop things. Onions even.

And I don't mind a mess. Come to my kitchen. Make a mess in my kitchen making something wonderful and I'll clean it up without a whimper.

The truth is that cooking is hard work. And some of it is exacting: baking, handling meat, etc. Souffles? Ha. And if you have the means you simply have to walk in some place and look at the menu. Last night I had a wonderful seafood risotto (Bess). But I would never, ever make one. At lunch yesterday (posole and a Southwestern Caesar at Mirabelle) and my companion mentioned buying the same corn used to make polenta at Enoteca for himself for a Christmas Eve dinner and for a friend as a present. And I was thinking, "I think I'll go to Enoteca and have polenta!"

I get that if you don't have the money, you have to cook. Been there. Skillet dinners, pot of beans, salads (chopping only). And always lots of things you eat without prep.

Yes, I confess, I have major phobias in the kitchen. And this time of year I have to say: "I don't cook turkey! Ever."

There, I got that off my chest.

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