Friday, September 26, 2008

Comfort food for uncomfortable times

So La Fab and I had a conversation recently wherein she confessed that she had written down almost every meal that I had ever made for her. I was touched in a way I didn't expect. I don't really feel like my cooking skills are anything out of the ordinary, but apparently some people beg to differ. There are a handful that stand out in the constellation of meals, ones that I can recall the flavor of even now. They are mostly colored by the circumstances of their creation: here the pumpkin ravioli that marked our first family dinner, there the batch of jambalaya V. and I made to commemorate our first year since the Big Easy, over in the corner the picnic lunch of croissant sandwiches filled with swiss cheese and ham and sweet mustard and dreams. I remarked recently to a friend that in my circle, there is no more honest or powerful way to show you care than with food. Breaking bread, sharing wine, tapping through the caramel shell of creme brulee - every bite is a bond.

Not long before she left, Princess J. and I made a meal because she was homesick. I made a batch of pierogi for her, and sauteed cabbage and kielbasa. It was a huge, butter-soaked orgy of comfort, and I haven't made it again since then. (Mostly because there was still cabbage in my fridge from the last time, and that was more than two years ago.) Until tonight, that is. The talking heads were talk-talk-talking about the debate, and I was seized by the sudden desire for potato-filled dumplings. I was also seized by the desire for a stiff drink, but that's just because McCain started talking.
So I made some. Pierogi are a bigger commitment than I would usually undertake on a Friday evening, but I couldn't bring myself to give the debate my full attention, lest it cause vessels to burst in my brain. So I buried myself elbow-deep in sourcream and eggs and potato peelings, and listened to my blood pressure rising. Pretty soon, I realized that even eating a third of the filling wasn's going to cut it, and fried up a pan of polska kielbasa and a half a head of red cabbage, with half an onion and a healthy three shakes of caraway for good measure. Somewhere along the way I had a second stiff drink; soon after that I nicked my palm with my Global chef's knife. To be fair, I think that happened when McCain accused Obama of wanting to invade Pakistan, so the first kitchen injury I have received in several years was due to the Republicans.

I finally finished up right around closing remarks, and I sat down to the post-debate analysis with a plate full of this:
and sour cream. That is onions browned in butter on top of my pierogi over there. And apple chunks in the cabbage and sausage. I feel a little sick now, because this was about a week's worth of saturated fat, and because I listened to/ watched the whole thing. I think we might not win. I pray, desperately and fervently pray, that I am wrong, but I fear that I am right. I hope there is kielbasa in New Zealand, and I hope they need baristas and/or doulas down there come the fifth of November.

La Fab, I am sorry to sully this culinary memory for you. I swear I will make it up to you with some enchiladas or something. Broccoli soup. Barbeque. Something.

1 comment:

  1. The good news - and this makes me positively vibrate with glee - is that we will usher in the new president together this year. No doubtedly eating something delicious, which I will later describe in great detail in my diary.