Friday, June 17, 2011

There Weren't Another Other Way to Be

I am an outlaw cook. I roll my food home in a cart. I carry my groceries up flights of rickety stairs each week. I can't afford the best cuts of meats or free range anything. I buy what's on sale and then decide what to make. I am not interested in being a top chef. I like cooking outside the laws of tradition. I am an outlaw cook.

When you can't do something sometimes it nature's way of telling you to listen to your own drummer. I've been off the beaten path for all my life but just today in a hormonal revelation realized that I may be a fugitive of conventional cooking and I am okay with that.

When you come from food from another angle, perhaps it makes the difference. My mom and dad ran a Mexican restaurant in the Midwest in the 70's. My sisters worked there and one became a real chef after years and years of hard work. The other, a great natural cook with amazing talent. I seldom cooked and didn't work there but for a small stint as a dishwasher. But I watched my mother in the back kitchen and her magical way of adding this and that transforming huge pots into the foundations for most dishes. And I observed my dad at the front, the showman, assembling the plates and decorating them with cold lettuce & tomato until they became the finished platters ready to be picked up quickly under the stage lights by the waitress. I rode shotgun. My approach was a little different. I would come to my dad with little propositions as a child. "Let me make my spaghetti sauce and feature it on the menu" I proposed. "Let me try it for a week". I never wanted to walk through the front door of anyplace, much preferring to enter through the rear.

I saw a picture for a recipe on Food Network, stuffed pork chops. I imagined what was in it. I had spinach and these sweet pickled cherry peppers, ricotta and yogurt. I mixed that with garlic, stuffed these thick value pack boneless pork chops, quick fried and then baked for 1/2 an hour. Tender and tasty!

I haven't gotten anywhere yet. I'm not a success by any stretch of the imagination. I enjoy cooking more than I enjoy doing anything though. And I enjoy quite a lot. My heroes have always been people that have done things differently. I respect the people that have come up the hard way. I like to see a bit of dirt on my compadres. I have reverence for blood, sweat and tears.

I hope I find my way soon though because they don't call it a lonely highway for nothing.

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