Oh, food. Yummy, yummy food. I’m a big fan of it. Always have been. Cooking, though, is a relatively new thing in my life. It’s not even happening tonight, as I am currently microwaving a delectable Trader Joe’s frozen product while I write. I got home late and I have to go to bellydance, okay? I’m just speaking in general here, and in general I like to cook very much.
I didn’t say I was good at it, though. I commonly forget things like, oh, seasonings, prompting people who eat my food to look at each other strangely and reach for the salt and pepper. I once tried to make mac and cheese from scratch without cooking the pasta. I can’t make a good muffin for the life of me because I don’t really understand “folding.”
But I think I do pretty well, comical mishaps notwithstanding. I steal a lot of recipes from Martha (from which I got an excellent mayonnaise-free potato salad) and The Cooking Porn People. I really like to bake. I like to make soup, too, and I am working up to using an immersion blender. It’s nice to cook at Carl’s house because there are lots of gadgets here, although I have to say I don’t use too many of them. I’m devoted to the silicone spatula and the microplane grater though. I like to cream butter and sugar together by hand, so I don’t use a KitchenAid. I love using the mortar and pestle and I look forward to one day having a mezzaluna. I like to putter around and get everything out of the cupboards and put everything back in. One of the great joys in my recent life was finding the perfect little jars for my spices and then labeling them with the label-maker.
So I make a lot of things with lentils and beans. I saute vegetables not infrequently. I make lemon-anisette biscotti and cranberry tea cake and plum upside down cake and this thing that is sort of bread and sort of cake and has apricots in it. I make lasagna. I make chicken piccatta. I make tiramisu. I love cookbooks and books about food, and I even like cooking stores, although I have to say that the abovementioned Cooking Porn Store is a little weird. I don’t like the catalogs so much.
I’m going to New York to spend Thanksgiving with my father this year, did I tell you all that? He is possibly the best cook I know…one of those very intuitive cooks. I’ve never spent Thanksgiving with him before, so my mind is preparing to be boggled by what he’ll make for dinner that day. My sister tells me that his Christmas dinner last year started out with a ragu. His mother, my nonna, and he had this bond over cooking…I believe she was one of those Italian women who spent a lot of time in the kitchen having very serious conversations about what to eat for dinner tonight. She used to make him this thing for his birthday that was essentially a hollow shell of cake filled with cream and booze. His birthday parties were pretty popular, I’m told. She was, and he is, a cook who doesn’t use a recipe and can just choose what to make by looking at what’s in the house. Ask my dad, next time you see him, to make you a plate of pasta with peas and sausage and then wait to die and go to heaven because your mouth is so happy. I admire that, the ability to make something coherent and delicious out of a bunch of scraps of stuff. I’m not like that yet; I have to squint at the recipe and hold my breath while I grate the cheese. I’d like cooking to be something I can do naturally and instinctively. And I’d definitely would like if someone would like to do the dishes afterwards.