The Art of Expectation
Ah, disappointment, I know you so well.
I thought the lobster would taste, well, buttery–and sweet, and practically melt in my mouth. I expected to hear angels singing, to have a moment when the restaurant dissolved and the whole world was my mouth wrapped around perfectly cooked and succulent crustacean in a symphony of flavor. After the first bite, I waited in vain for what my sister calls “The Great Pause” to hit me. But, I had a hard time feeling like the lobster tasted like anything at all. Instead of a lovely strings and cello, I could hear the woman at the next table order sweet tea with her $100/plate meal. The light dimmed just a bit in the cool clean restaurant overlooking the red-tiled roofs of the University of Colorado. I squinted blankly at my plate. Then, I added fancy table-served sea salt. Then more salt.
|Disappointing sweetbreads an foie gras|
And yet, this is exactly the opposite of the kind of cooking I advocate. Put yourself in front of some ingredients and see what happens, I say. Let the preparation be meditation. Let the experience be new. I have been surprised by recipes I’ve made a 100 times. And that’s a good thing. Imagine making the same turkey every Thanksgiving, exactly the same way. It may be good for tradition and your sense of nostalgia, but it’d be rotten for your taste buds and your palate which will be, as Sylvia Plath says, “dulled to a halt under bowlers.”
Last night, the city-dwellling boyfriend made dinner. He quick sautéed minced pork stew meat with garlic and white onions before finishing it with a bit of chicken stock. Then he fried corn tortillas as I drank wine and ate his famous guacamole. On the table: white lilies he’d bought for me. We ate the pork tacos with pickled onions and cabbage and sour cream. I served some chilled corn soup I’d made earlier in the week. We chatted and watched to the hummers fight at the feeder above my head. It had been a week since I’d seen him.