Monday, April 2, 2018

Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone

I watched one episode with Chef Gabrielle Hamilton on Mind of a Chef and I immediately wanted to write her a letter and tell her how much I appreciated and related to her way of looking at food and leftovers and recycling scraps and sauces.  All of that.  I have felt that way since childhood. Both my mother and my father instilled the value of these little gems.  Coming out of the depression era certainly influenced them but also their mutual love and respect for food.  I was schooled on tiny pieces of meat that hide behind the bone, or parts of vegetables that have concentrated, built in flavors that can be a cook's secret private party.  Even further, I can hear my mom say don't throwaway that tiny bit of hot sauce, we can use it for breakfast or a snack.  The downside of keeping everything is that we had a refrigerator with science experiments going on from yesteryore.  And not one of us was a good cleaner. You just had to be careful and check because there is definitely an expiration date to food.
Prune, the restaurant on 1st Ave on the Lower East Side
I love that a seasoned New York Chef, restaurateur, writer would have many of the same food thought leanings as a home cook.  I too, like so many folks have been young and hungry and needed to make something to eat.  I think the difference with us early foodies is that we wanted the meal to satisfy more than a need to eat.  We probably craved some love, some hugs, some assurance that life wasn't all hardships. We somehow connected to food in a deeply romantic way early on.  I missed my mom, although she wasn't gone she was just working.  She was cooking so dang hard at the restaurant that I feel like I didn't see her much from the age of nine to maybe around 17 when I wasn't as enamored by her presence. Although actually she was always super interesting to me.  I studied her, I watched her.  I noticed her changes.  I needed to pull away but I wasn't near ready at that time.  I was an insecure little freakazoid child that was scared of her own shadow.
Peeking inside Prune because I'm still a freak
But I was also taught food was a way to express and create. Maybe I had the idea to put my feelings into a little snack plate.  I do that now.  I did that this morning.
I saved the last few bites of my excellent pork steak made by P last night for Easter.  It was so special for so many reasons and definitely celebrated and appreciated.  So these small slices charred with a leftover tomato wedge from our salad, some sweet onion and a little cilantro over a poached egg was everything.
All mixed together and eaten with a spoon.   I get a little teary and emotional with food.  Like music it can extract all of these feelings both new and old.  My mother made these 3 minute eggs that became such a delicacy if you got them just right.  Served simply in a small cup with salt and pepper. Each family member liked theirs slightly different which could be the difference of 30 seconds to a minute.  I could not handle any clear uncooked snot in mine.  The whites needed to be just translucent and ever so soft.  But unlike this morning, absolutely no solid, everything had to be creamy and cloudlike.
I hold these little secret experiments with P where I'll serve him a sacred treat without words and watch to see if he picks up any of the magic.  This morning he did.

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