Raison d’être

13 Oct

Food is almost always a bridge or a barrier; cultural, religious, philosophical, political and ethical ideologies have been instantly brooked or erected with nothing more than a wee wisp of factory farmed bacon.

What we put in our mouths is a daily and blaring public advert for our personal proclivities from which no man can hide. Whether food is simply fuel for our journey, or the destination itself, everyone has their Madeleine(s).

For me, a piece of thin wheat toast slathered with melted, salty butter and blobs of warm, puddling chunky peanut butter will always signify the merriest moments of my wild childhood. The scent of roasted red peppers reminds me of my first date with my husband. Cold baked beans on an unset table are the day my grandmother died.

Everything I eat is important to me. I like to plan out, plot and eagerly await each meal, savor every bite, smack my lips and moan with relish and delight over contrasting textures, flavors, temperatures and colors. I’m ridiculous.

My husband, Stephen, eats what is put in front of him, generally without comment. He’s a strange and mysterious creature.

Not that his relative passivity augurs smooth culinary sailing. I always pester him for feedback and, when pushed, he doesn’t hold his fire. While his untempered tirades occasionally still sting (they used to burn), they’ve all made me a better cook. (Did I really need to hear that my brussel sprouts with lardons tasted like skunked swamp cabbage with pig bits? Actually, I did. Now I make roasted sprouts drizzled with browned butter, generous handfuls of salt and shaved Parmesan. Much better).

When we decided to move out of our tiny, craptastic, ancient one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment to spread out in a large, deluxe, brand new two-bedroom in White Plains, his biggest fear was turning into a lame suburbanite who tailed it out of the big, bad city because he, quite frankly, didn’t have the cajones to hack it there.

Mine was that we wouldn’t be able to find anything yummy to eat.

We are both looking forward to the idea of a slightly more mellow pace, more room for us, our stuff and our dog — and the prospect of having more time together. Stephen spent the last several years in law school and studying for the bar — I rarely saw him.The last few months we have been getting to know each other again. It’s like cheating on each other with each other: the ideal marriage.

One of our new-found rituals is spending the week discussing what giant meal I will cook on Sunday. To qualify, it must be something we will both enjoy (a tough task, considering our palates are polar opposites), something that we can pick at all week without getting bored and something somewhat healthy and definitely affordable (thank you, student loans!). We’re omnivores, but we tend to avoid meat — I’d eat more of it if organic meat were more affordable, but …. it’s not.

This Sunday will be our last in Brooklyn. In the midst of all of the packing chaos, we haven’t had much time to obsess over what I’m going to make. I’m going renegade on this one — we’ll see how that goes! I’ll report the results on Monday with a recipe, cost breakdown, rough nutritional info and general reception.

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