My roommates often mock my culinary creations. According to them, my twice-weekly preparations of whole grains, beans, and veggies with some sort of sauce look like piles of inedible mush. I can't say I disagree. The food I cook to sustain myself almost always falls into the category of "healthy" and "low in fat" but isn't the prettiest stuff to look at. Because I don't need it to be. I'm not preparing it as part of a state dinner. I'm making it to fill my stomach and give me energy. It tastes okay, so appearance isn't a real concern.
It's not that I don't know how to make elegant meals that are as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate.
I grew up in the kitchen. Both of my parents are wonderful cooks and dedicated foodies and I inherited from them a strong appreciation for fine dining as well as a knack for creating the occasional culinary masterpiece. When I feel like it. Most evenings I'm convinced that I'm too tired or drained or whatever from my day to spend any time in the kitchen.
Last night 47 came over for our last evening together for the next week. He has childcare duty so I won't be seeing him for a few days. In light of that, I wanted to do something special. So I cooked dinner. Note that I didn't demand that he take me out. I willingly offered to make him a fantastic meal. It had been a while since I attempted anything fancy. In fact, I think my last outstanding culinary endeavor took place in July when I made him grilled tuna and veggies.
Since it was Monday and I had endured a very stereotypically trying day at the office, I opted for pasta. But not just any old pasta. Linguini with onion confit, basil, toasted walnuts and gorgonzola cheese. It took about an hour to prepare start to finish. Onions take a while to confit, and there was some adding of wine to a pan and some deglazing action, as well as chopping lots of herbs and other flavors. And I hate chopping things, I really do.
A half-an-hour into the process, our kitchen filled with the scent of caramelizing onions and garlic. My roommates stopped in one-by-one, sniffing the air inquisitively and peering into my various pans. The end product? Pure pasta bliss. 47 remarked several times that the dish was completely delicious, and he wasn't "just saying that." It really was amazing. Good enough to become a signature dish, if a signature dish can be lifted from a cookbook, which this was. Moreover, the cooking process was pretty enjoyable, despite all the chopping. The glass of white wine I had while I cooked certainly helped of course, but the cooking itself was strangely calming. Not nearly as stressful as others before it. The eating part was good too, but the best of all was the satisfaction that came from creating something spectacular and the joy it gave another person to consume it.
It would have been even better had I had a quiet apartment to eat it in, without the conversations of four other people to be forced to overhear as I attempted conversation with 47, but that's an entirely different issue. Said 47: Aren't you getting to the age where you should be living alone? Gawd, don't remind me. I can haz new job pleeaze? Such as?