Thursday, April 3

Culinary Perfection

It was my turn to cook dinner the other night and I thought I might try something different. Normally I'm a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy, by which I mean when I go grocery shopping my shopping list consists of two items: 1.Meat; 2. Potatoes.

But that night, determined to break out of my rut, I prowled the Internet for some ideas.

After being distracted by some delightful photos of kittens wearing hats,  I found a recipe that I knew would enchant and amaze my wife.

So when she got home and inquired, "What's for dinner?" I was beaming with pride when I replied, "Something new."

"New?" she said, suspiciously. "New like how?"

I paused a moment for dramatic effect. "How do Brussels sprouts in a vinaigrette reduction with brown sugar and pineapple-bacon garni sound?"

"It sounds pretty ambitious. What else?"


"Yes. You weren't planning on just having Brussels sprouts for dinner, were you?"

"Did I mention garni?" I asked.

"Sprouts and garni do not a meal make, my love," she said.

"Well, of course sprouts and garni do not make a meal," I over-inflected. "I am pondering many, many other ideas."

"I get nervous when you ponder. What ideas?"

"Oh, you know," I said casually. "I thought it might be nice to have some..."





"I can see it's a bold, new world, dear. I hope I can handle it."


The next day I vowed to expand my recipe assemblage. I turned for help to my local YMWCHA. Sure enough their website revealed a lecture series called "Culinary Perfection" scheduled to begin that very evening. I registered on the spot.

The class was held in the cafeteria kitchen which was in the basement next to a yarning and felting studio. Several students were already gathered around the teacher, identified on a small placard as "Chef Francoise". 

Chef Francoise spoke with a creditable French accent that made him sound very  much like a chef and a tiny bit like Hercule Poirot. "Welcome to Culinary Perfection avec Chef Francoise. I do not like the waste of the time, so let us begin."

He nodded toward a woman in a red and white long sleeved t-shirt and wearing a beret.

"Mademoiselle, can you tell me how many of the teaspuns are in the tablespun?"

"Three, Monsieur," she answered brightly.

"Oui, Mademoiselle. Trois. Bon."

I don't really like to answer questions in public, so I had artfully concealed myself behind two wide women toward the rear of the crowd.

With that unique ability to generate discomfort that only the French can master, Chef Francoise gestured toward me over the top of the two women. "And you, Monsieur," he said, "how many of the tablespuns are in the coop?"

"Well, Monsieur Le Chef Francoise," I said, sheepishly stepping out from behind the women, "I don't actually use the measuring spoons or the measuring cups."

"But how is it for you to know the proper amounts?"

"Oh, I usually just eyeball it."

"Ah-boll it?" he asked, doubtfully.

"You know, sort of a rule of thumb kind of thing."

"And this ah-boll and this thume, they are part of the recipe?" I believe I detected a vague accusation of cannibalism in his question.

"No, no. I just mean - say I'm adding salt. I usually just pour it in until it looks like I have added about a tablespoon."

"A tablespun of salt!? Into what recipe en le monde would you add a whole tablespun of salt?"

"That's just an example. It could be sugar or margarine or..."

"Attendez! Arrêter! STOP!!!' Chef Francoise's face had become quite rouge at this point. "Salt, sugar, margarine, ah-boll, thume? What  recipe du diable is this???"

"Eeew!" said the women who had unsuccessfully served as my shield.

"First of all," I said, growing indignant, "the eyeball and thumb are not part of this recipe ..."

"There is another recipe? With the ah-boll..."

"NO! There is no ah-boll in any recipe!"

"And the th..."

"No thume, either!"

"So only le salt, le sugar, and le," here he made a gagging sound, "margarine?"

"That is just part of it. Obviously a recipe needs more than salt, sugar, and" - I whispered so as not to upset him - "the 'M' word."

"And, s'il vous plaît Monsieur, please tell the members of the class exactly what would be added to complete this disgusting recipe?"

I looked around at their expectant faces. 

"I am pondering many, many other ideas."


D. McEwan said...

I'm afraid I'm with you. I don't even own measuring spoons. I went to the store yesterday and bought three items: a ten-pound bag of cat litter (Not for consumption), a gallon of whole milk and a ten-pound bag of russett Potatoes.

They I got my excercise carrying these 25 pounds of stuff home again.

Tallulah Morehead said...

My gourmet recipe for Beef Boulougne, Vicheyswaisse and Veal Poulaniase.

1. Enter kitchen.

2. Add half a bottle of vodka to myself.

3. Who cares?