Monthly Archive for September 2010
Kevin lodged a vague request for something banana-y and breakfast-y a couple weeks back. Normally, I am thrilled to have a request and act on it as quickly as possible, but such jump-to-it-ness simply isn’t possible when it comes to banana -based baked goods. Unless, of course, you store bananas in your freezer, an excellent practice and one that I am not organized enough to accomplish. So, I did the next best thing: I snapped up a bunch of bananas at the store. And then I waited.
When purchased, the bananas’ peels were a sunny hue, blemish-free and even tinged with whispers of lime green. In short, these bananas were completely unsuitable for baking. It wasn’t until a week later, when the bananas had softened on the kitchen counter, taking on a deeply freckled complexion, that they were ready. By that time, of course, I wasn’t in the mood to bake my regular old banana bread.
There is something so wonderful about an all-day recipe. It’s automatically special. It instantly fills your day up with purpose. It tethers you to your kitchen and, if you’re like me, that’s just fine by you. It promises to fill your home with delicious fragrances and gentle warmth. Best of all, it screams weekend—because, in my world at least, dinner and its preparation simply is not an hours-long affair on a weeknight. In the fall, such a recipe screams Sunday afternoon, in particular, when golden sunshine filters into the kitchen and the whistles and cracks and cheers of a football game on TV waft out of the living room. And, because it is fall, with the first hints of chill in the air, your all-day-Sunday recipe might as well be good and hearty.
Last Sunday, in accordance with all of the above, I committed myself to a baked pasta with pork sugo. This project had me break down a hunk of pork shoulder into chunks, which were first browned and then braised in a concoction of wine, soffritto, tomatoes and fresh herbs that smelled just as lovely as you might expect. Like any good braise, this one was low and slow. Hours later, the pork had become fall-apart tender.
I’ve been dreaming about Paris for a long time—images conjured from things I’d read, photos I’d seen, movies I’d watched, food I’d eaten, wine I’d sipped. I was dying to go. So, when we laid our plans to go to Santorini, I batted my eyelashes at Kevin, who easily agreed to tack a stop in Paris—my first trip to Paris—onto the end of the trip. Once we were in Santorini, as our time there slipped by, I started to worry. Would Paris live up?
And then it did. In a way that made my heart swell and my eyes blur. In a way that is still knocking around my head. In a way that made me stop dead in my tracks, look around, and wonder: is this place for real? In a way that made me want to shop in the food markets—to bring a fresh piece of produce up to my nose and inhale deeply; to sample a slim slice from a wedge of sharp cheese; to tear a nub off a freshly-baked baguette before tucking it into the crook of my arm—and to cook, to bake. In a way that made me long for a stop at a boulangerie to be a part of my everyday, for a sidewalk cafe to call my own. In a way that made me feel more stylish, more worldly—more in it.
As I write this, we—Kevin and I—have just said au revoir to Paris. Tucked into my seat on an Air France flight headed toward O’Hare, moments ago, I peeled away shiny, airy layers of a croissant, purchased at Paul and smuggled onto the plane, letting the buttery flakes melt on my tongue. Next to me, Kevin took big bites of a beignet oozing with thick chocolate. This decadent breakfast seemed the perfect cap to a few days in Paris, which were preceded, incredibly, by twice as many days in Greece. But I’ve gotten ahead of myself, haven’t I?
This vacation, planned for months and months, crept up on me at the end of this summer, after a string of very busy weeks, when quiet moments were rare, when we seemed continually on the go—for work, for fun, for the sake of the brilliant weather. So, August slid into September, suddenly, and before I knew it, I was heading home from a business trip, only to pack another suitcase. But packing for Santorini (!) and, after that, Paris (!!), is much better than packing for a business trip, of course.