It is no coincidence that everyone I am close to loves food, loves to cook, or both. In my opinion, people who understand the power of good food (the word “good” eliminating all fast food, crappy food, foods that have been engineered in one way or another, and junk food!) have a fighting chance at being happy more often than not.
Have you ever closed your eyes in reverie or put up your hand to stop someone from speaking because you have just put a delectable morsel of food into your mouth? I love those stand-still moments when you cannot speak because you want to experience every last pleasure that colors your palate. My sister calls them “put down your fork and slap your leg moments” ( granted she has a bit of the Beverly hillbilly in her!)
There is a definite expectation when anyone comes to the Crappy Kitchen for dinner. When people come to dine, the food is always discussed and planned with the understanding that the food is going to play an important part in the evening. The food is going to be the thing that dilutes the sourest of moods, and can even temper heated conversations that happen to swirl around the dinner table.
Food has the ability to transform what could be an ordinary mid-week dinner into something memorable and delicious. And this past Tuesday when our dear friend Thomas came to dinner was a perfect example of what I mean by transformative.
My world is filled with artists of one kind or another and the majority of them don’t leave their creativity on the work bench, canvas or writing tablet: it usually extends to the kitchen! And my friend Thomas is not only an accomplished metal artist, he is also a dynamite cook (explosive in every way!)
So when he was in town, or close enough, we planned to have dinner on one of his only free nights, this past Tuesday. Of course he had to bring his mother Charlotte along or what would be the point! Charlotte will be 92 years old this year and she makes me feel like a complete waster. She is alive, alert and does not have any intention of slowing down, “Why should I?”, she said as she thrust a tray of cupcakes into my hands that she had whipped up for dessert. So, can you imagine what her son might be like? (the opposite of lethargic comes to mind).
Every time Thomas travels to do a show or teach a class is some far-flung American city, he sometimes ends up in my kitchen, and, he never comes with his hands hanging: quite the opposite. He is one of the few people who understands why I would think it essential to pack my big saute pan in my suitcase in lieu of clothing when I travel to say Ireland or hmmmm…Italy (which I did last year). This Tuesday he not only showed up with polenta cakes ready to be fried, a great Maque Choux, Shrimp in long-cooked Red Sauce, a garnish of living watercress, but also the plates he wanted it all to be served on!
The moment he entered the kitchen I took up Sous-Chef position as he rattled off what he would need: “saute pan, knife, chopping board, wash these plates, just got them in Ikea, oh and make sure to warm them before I plate”. Huh? Wow and I thought I was the only one who took the trouble to warm plates: a man after my own heart!
So, as you can see from this pictorial, we had a marvelous dinner and Thomas swore he would give me the recipes as soon as he got home (The dish that I cooked will be documented over the next few days also).
After dinner my son said to me in the nicest way possible, “no offense Mom, but Tom’s food was better” Why is “no offense” always followed by something offensive! It was pretty darn good though, so I conceded.