Friday, February 23, 2007

Roast Pork

Few things please me more than cooking. It is a process that is almost entirely intuitive and physical. Living in the city of Baltimore, there is a predisposition to crabs. I am not so disposed. Crab is good. Very good. But is it just crab and it should not be compromised by additional ingredients, or the assumptions of an irreverent chef du jour full of desire to add stuff to the crab. Leave it alone. Just plain crab is enough.

I am more drawn to the pleasure of fresh herbs, reductions, searing, sauteing, braising. I like dishes that are cooked slowly for hours. I like a slow process. The building to a fine result of fragrances, textures, color. I like the look of the food, the feel of the food. I like to mix salads with my hands and peer at tomato sauces bubbling.

I especially love the movement of cooking. Lifting pots, swinging them onto a stove. It like the splash of water into a steamer, the sound of the water coming to a boil. That ping. I like bubbling pots and sizzling frying pans. I like moving from sink to stove, from oven to counter, refrigerator to cutting board. I like the knife blade rocking on wood.

I love the fragrance of herbs being dry toasted in a pan. Ou. Ou. I like to think about cooking, looking through the spice cabinet contemplating the combination of seasonings. I like the spice tray twirling. I like the mortar and pestle, the crushing of herbs and the wild fragrance that emerges. I like onions. I love garlic. I love garlic.

I like soft boiled eggs with green onion shards and Braggs and salt and pepper on a Sunday morning. I like the yolk running brilliant yellow. I like the process of cooking as much as I like living.

In cooking, there is the integration of rules with desire. I think it is like playing an instrument. You must learn the scales before you can improvise. You must know the basics and you must first grasp them intellectually. You must then deeply appreciate the significance of knowing the basics intimately---the lemon, thyme, cardamom, garlic, salt, cream, red wine. How and when do they engage? What melds with another? When does rice wine yearn for avocado? You must know ingredients simply, like a musical scale. Unlike the scale, however, you must know the physical quality of the note on the tongue. (If I could taste music, I would be additionally happy.)

Cooking is like loving. You must give yourself to it fully, you must be fully present in the process and sensitive to the slightest nuances of the ingredients, textures, the flush of colors. You must balance giving and receiving, chaos and order, joy and fear. Cooking is loving, garlic.

1 comment:

sheigh said...

Hello! Still want that lime tortilla soup...