If Yan Could Cook. . .

Four Breakfasts

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Twice this week I have been surprised with the need to make someone breakfast (not in the picked-you-up-at-the-bar way; those guys I throw out in the night. Ho!). The first time, I fried some bacon chopped into mulch, drained off most of the fat, and then added finely chopped shallots and green onions, because they were what I had on hand. Beaten eggs and then micrograted strong white cheddar went into the pan next, and then the whole thing went into the oven. The result was, for a fridge-cleaning omelette, actually quite good. My companion swooned. Of course, in classic form, I grabbed the pan handle with my bare hand and ended up with six separate large blistering burns on my fingers and palm. Half an hour later I was gently, lovingly washing the same beautiful pan, sighing over the way the omelette had slid out in one motion, with no resistence. My cookware abuses me, but I love it anyway. It’s not a healthy relationship.

The second time, more pressed for time, I threw about 1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries in the blender, along with a handful of ice, several dollops of peach yogurt, and about 1/2 cup of the mixed tropical juice in my fridge. Again, a pleasant impromtu start to the day.

Photo by Laura D’Alessandro. My. Doesn’t food look beautiful in sunlight?

On Sunday, there was a much more planned breakfast. I again used this recipe, doubled to make about 18 pancakes for six people. Still in awe of my new 12″ Calphalon: I could make three 1/4 cup batter pancakes at once, with ease, with equal cooking times and perfectly even browning. I’ve had more trouble making two pancakes on an actual double-element flattop. If anyone tells you a bad cook (or carpenter) blames his tools, I say: you’d be surprised at what better tools can do.

Accompanying it was an apple and pear compote (stainless steel! Oh, how you caramel differently!). One gala and two spartan apples, and two Bartlett pears, peeled and sliced, a dab of butter, a heaping of brown sugar and a touch of white, cinnamon, and lemon zest. I didn’t make enough for the amount of pancakes; next time I would double the amount of fruit.

I also gave this recipe for buttermilk biscuits a go, but I couldn’t make it work. I had to add way more buttermilk and handle it incessantly to get a reasonable dough, and the resulting biscuits were doughy and…whatever the opposite of buttery is – dry? Not crumbly? I think they would be okay with jam and additional butter, though; in that spirit, I brought them over to Phil and Laura’s at about 7:15 in the morning. That is really the only acceptable reason to show up at someone’s home before eight a.m. – to bring them baked goods.

This week I trained at Savate four days in a row, going to both my university’s club and another. People at the other gym take the sport more seriously; there was a conversation where people related their various successes and failures with calorie-counting, and I just stood by silently, mulling on my dorky hedonist ways. Weighing out produce? The pros and cons of popcorn? What does this have to do with landing my foot on the bridge of someone’s nose?

Later, standing in a corner store, I had this thought: does every candy bar make you a worse fighter? And, well – yes, it probably does. And I knew I could never do what they do. When I think of it as a choice (candy bar vs. better fighter) it isn’t so much that I choose the candy bar, it’s that it doesn’t compute. My brain replies: false dichotomy! Let’s have it all!

Later still, feeling sick off of a huge styrofoam plate of some truly heinous Chinese food, vegetables gliding down the slight gradient of the table in their slick cornstarchy goo, I had this thought: okay, it’s not that I eat too much, it’s that I live badly. This is the real choice, a choice I can believe in: Cheetos, or getting to cook my steak in butter instead of olive oil? American processed “grilled” cheese in a campus cafeteria, or getting to smother my pasta sauces in cream? A week of vile vending-machine plasticky chocolate, or one Friday with the best, bottomless milkshakes in town? I could never give up bad junk food to be a different shape, to be slimmer, to run a little faster. I think – I hope – I can give it up for better junk food, for deeper pleasures.


Written by skimfu

October 23, 2008 at 2:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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