Domestic violence. Infidelity. Sexually transmitted diseases. Transexual hookers. Substance abuse. Every other weekend. Exploitation. Financial ruin. Betrayal, betrayal, betrayal. Broken trust. Broken homes. Broken dreams. These are the ingredients of my Monday through Friday and they often spill into Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday I got up early and made buttermilk pancakes and organic bacon for breakfast. There is something magic about the intoxicating aroma of bacon, coffee, butter and blueberry syrup, the perfectly golden brown of pancakes on the griddle and the outrageous sunshine of the morning that will draw teenagers to the breakfast table before 10 a.m. on a weekend and provoke them into contented chattiness, while the dogs stare hopefully from an area rug, waiting for the inevitable moment when they will receive buttered pancakes. It is a perfect slice of life. It is what memories are made of.
I love to cook. So many of life’s most important events happen around food. I am not talking about weddings and birthdays. I am talking about the everyday time, the times that occur outside of Hallmark’s purview, like when I told my cherubic 3 year old at the dinner table not to talk with her mouth full and without hesitating, she spat her macaroni and cheese onto her plate and kept talking. Or my first week of law school finals when the idea of how much I had to study overwhelmed me and I spent four days avoiding my law books by perfecting my technique for caramelizing onions.
I have a running dialogue about food with virtually everyone who is close to me. My friend Lainey won’t willingly eat vegetables which to me is akin to being a cult member, and I am still trying to rescue her.
My friend Mindy and I have been friends since we were children and were room mates for many years. Usually we were too poor to eat anything more than ramen noodles, but when we were flush we feasted. To this day she is my epicurean buddy, my fellow gourmand.
To me, cooking is a life lesson that spills back into the Monday through Friday stuff, because it is not about a rigid, stepped recipe, precise, little measuring instruments and exact temperatures. (I rarely measure — or follow recipes.) It is about understanding the relationship of flavors to one another. It is intrinsically knowing that rosemary does not ever go with nutmeg, but it is splendid with lemon. It is knowing that when the cake comes out lopsided (which it always does), you can balance it off with an extra thick layer of lemon curd. It is knowing that harmony is created by the relationship of the pieces to the whole and that with the simplest of ingredients, you can create something exquisite if you care enough to do it. It is the sunny relief, that in this world that is replete with human darkness, there is an oasis where you choose to find it, or to make it.
On Saturday, while I was cleaning up the dishes, my daughter said, “Dune just burped up water on the floor and Toby is drinking it.” Memories. I loved it.
P.S. I’ll put my buttermilk pancake recipe in a new recipes category for you. 🙂