Monday, June 20, 2011
I could have looked it up, but nahhhh
I could have looked it up. I mean c'mon, I am a librarian after all! But sometimes, that's just not the way to go. Sometimes, learning by my own hand is just what I need.
In this case, the need was an Asian dressing to go with a meal I dubbed "Spring roll in a bowl!" Cabbage, carrots, cucumber, purple and green onion, and lightly lemony-garlicky chicken with the daylights diced out of it. I had resources at ready hand... we have cookbooks in the cupboard and access to the internet... but, the need for creativity outweighed speed today.
I came at the bowl with ideas and a ratio. 3/1 oil to acid. Soon, whisk in hand, the counter was dappled with magic in the making. First, one vinegar with a pinch of salt. Stir to dissolve. Wondrous relationship there! Salt calms the acid without turning it overly salty. Then, a pinch of raw sugar. One oil and whisk! Soon, creamy chemistry at its finest! Emulsion! I love the moment it all comes together! Balanced molecular harmony! Add one oil at a time, incorporating each one before adding the next. A splash of soy sauce...a dribble of sesame...more whisking until all is one. Augh, beauty in a measuring cup!
Next batch, the same ratios, but with lemon juice as the acid. Combine the two dressings, add the whites and greens of four green onions and let steep.
I tossed the salad early to let the relationship develop between cabbage and dressing, wanting it to wilt a little but still retain some crunch, in the interest of texture in the mouth.
The pleasure was so simple and so very grand...
As I worked, contentedly alone among the bottles and pans, it came to mind that in a lot of ways, this sort of experimenting parallels writing poetry. Harmony and contrast play parts; blending and intentional texture as well; spice, flavor, feel...communication of that feeling...
And I must admit also to a parity in the role of the senses in both the process of creating as well as what comes of it. Simply put, the acts of poetry and cooking are pleasing to me, relaxing to me, soothing...delights I would even call prayerful--to witness to and have revealed Holy Mystery in a variety of forms, call it what you will: chemistry, sound, flavor, rhythm...
I find that just plain old amazing. And, delicious, truth be told.