Saturday, October 20, 2012
I find myself in a city or a restaurant and I start to gauge the possibility. Is this a place that makes all their own food from scratch, or am I getting prepared frozen crap from another source? Does Dufflet deliver their desserts or is a there a talented young chef slaving away in the kitchen back there cranking out the ultimate flaky pastry or tiramisu with painstaking attention to quality ingredients and just the special unique touch to elevate his/her creation to heavenly status?
Ever since I read Eat Pray Love, I am chomping at the bit to go to Naples and eat that pizza Elizabeth Gilbert became addicted to not caring that every day that passed caused her to gain a pant size. The gelato too for that matter. Sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and worry about losing the 10 lbs later.
The current winner, historically speaking for the crab cakes was a place in Charleston, South Carolina called Magnolia. I have attempted a few since then, but so far, they have paled in comparison. The hamburger is still elusive. Nothing has ever even come close to beating my mother's homemade patties that my father would BBQ, leaving them pink in the middle and the fat and juices dripping out of them with every bite. Now, health regulations manage to ruin every restaurant's attempts to cook them properly - no pink allowed - ugh!
I also have a thing about Italian Sausage. My father used to work with an Italian guy who made his own sausages. Once a year he would invite my father to come and join him in a day of sausage making as he had all the equipment necessary and the ingredients would be carefully chosen and mixed to create the most exquisite lean, perfectly seasoned sausages this side of the Atlantic. My dad liked to really taste the fennel, which in my opinion is what gives this sausage the unique and delicious punch it needs to reach nirvana status. The level of spiciness is secondary to this. I like hot, but some people can't handle that, so even a mild heat with enough fennel will do. I recently bought some hot ones from a local butcher called Cumbraes, hoping that at long last I had found "the perfect store bought Italian Sausages".
Tonight when I got home from work, I poured a glass of red and pulled my expensive ($8 for two) Italian treats out of the fridge and set about to cook them. My plan was to toss a salad to go with my extravagant purchase. I got distracted by a Skype call with my BFF in Austin while they were sizzling in the pan and by the time they were ready, I was tipsy from my red wine and feeling lazy, so I placed one on a plate and sliced into it (standing at the stove) with the notion I would just taste it first and then make my salad. I noticed straight away how lean it was - a good sign. I let it cool just enough so that it was still very warm but not too hot that it would burn the roof of my mouth. The smell was mouth-watering and the "chew" factor was just right. I began to taste the fennel, then the hot spicy heat just the right level. Mmmmm, this was good. One more bite before I make the salad. OK, one more. Alright, I will finish this one sausage and save the second one to have with my salad. All told, I had cut this delectable tube of magic Mediterranean meat into seven slices of food heaven.
I became possessed with the kind of hunger for more, reminiscent of my teenage libido. Screw the salad I decided - tonight I shall dine on sausage and red wine and nothing more. No arugula, no tiny sweet cherry tomatoes, no thinly sliced red onion, no shaved parmigiana reggiano or balsamic vinaigrette Just me, the meat and my wine. I summoned up my inner cave woman and savoured slice after slice of this savoury succulent meat in a casing. As I watched my second sausage disappear as quickly as the first one, I regretted only buying two, even though that was already double the amount I would normally ingest. Each delicious bite like a tiny foodgasm, my taste buds alive with joy and satisfaction. I was transported, animal-like in my devouring of this pure protein and fat feast.
It was over way too soon. Another similarity to teenage sex I thought. I splashed what was left of the wine into my glass and retired to the sofa to write this blog, not knowing when I started what I was going to write about, but lo and behold, a little synopsis of my night of fine dining and the end of my search for the "perfect Italian Sausage."
Aaahhhh! Got a light?
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Is everyone around me facing some kind of struggle these days? That is how it seems. Here I am up in the night, unable to sleep...again. I am physically tired, but my mind is wide awake. I thought perhaps a wee bowl of cereal might do the trick, but I tried that and it just made me crave a piece of cinnamon toast. I have not had that yet, but if a bit of writing does not send me back to the land of nod, I may crank up the toaster.
Custody battles. Cervical Cancer. Job angst. Aging and dying parents. Aging and dying friends. Separations. Divorces. Money woes.
Just a few of the dramas going on around me to people I know or care about or love. No wonder I cannot sleep. Sometimes my own problems pale in comparison. Most times actually. A psychic recently told me that my life looks great to others. She said it as though it was some sort of special gift I had. But inside she said, I knew the truth. The truth about my reality. I got to thinking about what she said and realized that for most of my life, I even believed the hype. My own hype. Even I bought into my outward persona.
The part of me that has been churning on the inside for what seems forever was something I was able keep under control. At arms length. Just below the surface. I knew it was there, but I was stronger. I could outwit it. Slap it back down when it got too noisy. Lately it is getting harder to silence. What is it she is trying to tell me? What is it that I don't want to hear? What is it I fear about her?
I am not going to answer these questions tonight. In fact, the thought of trying to answer them is enough to make me want to escape back to sleep. These inner explorations are exhausting. I have been on this journey for the better part of three years consciously now and it feels as though I am coming to a culmination point with these last few miles the hardest. I am so ready to reach the top of this mountain I have been climbing and plant my flag. But then what? What will I see on the other side? Is it all downhill from there? Or, can I just camp out at the top for a while? Hang there and enjoy the view until a big wind comes along and knocks me off that perch.
Has traversing this rocky climb been worth it? Will the view be rewarding enough? Should I have just been happy with making it to the base camp and then turned back? The only way of knowing is to make the climb. Reach the peak. Or, as the saying goes, will it be lonely at the top?
One thing I know for sure is that I have always been a sucker for a spectacular view and if I can still have cinnamon toast up there...
...well, that may just be heaven on earth.