Thursday, August 4, 2016
I am no great cook.
I don't have the patience for it, the craft, the instinct, or the exacting training. I am as inclined to follow odd ideas of my own that end delightfully as I am to follow odd ideas of my own that end miserably. And when I follow even the most perfect, acclaimed recipes I struggle, usually unsuccessfully, to not condense, shortcut, alter, or omit to their disservice.
But that doesn't mean I don't occasionally come up with something great. Something that makes me think "This is the best thing I've ever eaten in my life!" But I'm not sure that's ever really cooking, not like I've had at the best restaurants I've been to, like La Belle Vie or Heartland. I'm pretty sure it's not cooking so much as just getting out of the way. I'm pretty sure it's having ingredients that are out of reach of all but the most expensive restaurants, and figuring out a way not to ruin them.
Is this cooking? Is this even proper? I don't know, but yesterday it worked beyond all my dreams of kitchen wizardry, mostly because of the tomatoes, and because of luck, and because of living in a city with one good bakery.
I made bruschetta, which isn't really proper bruschetta, but I have no other name.
I sliced Rustica multigrain bread. I drizzled olive oil over it and sprinkled salt. Then I took a large, beefy tomato I'd grown from a small, old Italian heirloom variety a friend had given me, and scattered just manageable chunks of it over the bread. I fit a few halves of fresh mozzarella balls in strategic places throughout. I scattered thinly sliced garlic on everything, squeezed lime juice over it, and then drizzled honey. I broiled it all until the cheese was melted but not quite running. The second it was out of the oven I threw on a good deal of torn up basil I'd grown from seeds and some chopped arugula I bought in the store. I let the greens wilt into the toasts.
It was the best thing I've eaten in my life.
Luckily though there is always more; for at some point in the tastiness of food, it is all one great big tie for first place.