Friday, April 1, 2011
CHAPTER 4: Beef and Pork and a Story of Two Birthday Dinners
I wanted to fix something special that would warm us up from head to toe. I chose the following: spare ribs in a delicious wine-ladened sauce cooked in the oven for hours in one of my favorite Bram pots. Wasabi mashed potatoes which are so good it is hard not to poke your finger into the serving bowl for one more bite. Caramelized carrot salad which I made ahead and served at room temperature. A salad course of beautiful greens enriched with slices of avocado and my Papaya Seed Dressing. Home-made Apple Crisp for dessert, although a Persimmon Pudding or a Lemon Mousse would do just as nicely. We drank a gorgeous 2007 Bourgueil Avis de Vin Fort from Catherine et Pierre Breton.
1. My family never cooked with wine; she would have added water, not wine or stock, to her pot roast. Nor did they drink wine on a regular basis. Hard liquor before and coffee with dinner. That was their custom. Wine was an extravagance.
2. When it came to salad greens, she had one choice. Iceberg lettuce.
3. Bottled salad dressings seemed to us to be a great improvement over everyone having to eat the same one. They also saved time in a period when efficiency was highly valued.
4. Box cakes were fashionable in the 50s and stayed that way well into the time I was learning to cook. Because dessert was pretty much a nightly requirement, boxed cakes, instant puddings, and the like were seen as very helpful.
That I prefer wine to coffee with dinner, love the variety of the greens, make my own salad dressings and most of our desserts is the result of my living in the Bay area in this particular moment where great ingredients are readily available and the desire to eat healthy food is shared with a large swath of the community. I choose to spend time in the kitchen because I love to cook. Unlike my mom, efficiency doesn't matter all that much to me and thankfully, desserts are not an everyday necessity.
Finally, I imagine my mom and me standing side by side in a kitchen, straddling the span of time that separates us, each fixing birthday dinners. We share so many of the same values. We are both willing to spend time and effort in the kitchen. We both want the food to look beautiful on the plate. We both want the food to be cooked with an abundance of love. And most of all, we both want the dinner to be delicious and special for our birthday girls. Thanks, Mom.