Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Bad Luck Therapist: On Love in Food

Considering Ronit picked Latte, I knew there would be some problems. R is not really emotionally sound enough to pick a person without some kind of loud pathology...which puts me in an impossible position. Clearly, Ronit's anger infiltrated her decision to send me to Beezlebub. The smack talking, brassy and bold, unfeeling swine of Westwood. The woman is just downright shrewd...but so crass that it is comical.

Every person has visible pathology in their persona, but this is just too much. I might as well not even go to therapy, because I can't really talk about any deeply personal material without being judged. I must be continually mindful of the fact that everything I say and do will be used against me at some point.

Yesterday, I took my therapist some cake. My grandmother was a chef and she taught me everything that she knew. I have pretty sound technique when it comes to pastry, to cakes, and various other foods. I can make virtually anything from scratch.

The cake was a bavarian style Neapolitan cake, with faux creme cheese frosting, sprinkles, strawberries, and chocolate-rice shavings. Generally, I would fill this cake with Raspberry Gnash, but I just wasn't in the mood for all that yesterday. Filling a cake is always a stressful process for me- first you have to split it just so...and then lift off the top layer ( which is more difficult than it sounds) and then you fill it from the middle outward, without allowing the filling to leak beyond the perimeter of the cake. I wasn't in the mood to fill that cake yesterday, but it still looked good and tasted very good. A made a few errors with that cake. I should have used more dark chocolate powder, and should have placed semi-sweet morsels into the chocolate batter. I will do that next time I make it. Also, next time, I'm going to drizzle a little fudged over the top to make it a bit more decadent. The cake flavors were not intense enough, but I do feel as though I achieved a good balance of moisture and texture in the cake.

One of the tricks I learned from my grandmother, was to add maple and yogurt to a strawberry cake to make the flavor pop a bit more....but that didn't work because I didn't add pureed strawberries to the batter either. It was strange to me to listen to Latte comment on how pretty it looked, how good the cake smelled. It certainly wasn't my best effort. It was pretty, but I felt like her expression of this was slightly exaggerated, which made me uncomfortable.

I don't really stay with my therapist because I admire her technique. I stay with her because I sense a vulnerable and feeling, emotional, person beneath her brassy exterior. That is the part of her I most want to connect with. That is the part I find most healing.

There is nothing healing or holding about being judged.

On a happier note, I created a non-kosher recipe this morning for dill chicken.

The chicken breasts are stuffed with dill cheese and red peppers, with a little bit of mozzarella. Then the chicken is rolled in a mixture of cheese, breadcrumbs, egg, and oil. For plating, I think this will be best served on scallions. Not just scallions- scallioned onions and potato. To make the flavors pop, the scallion mixture will need some salt and garlic.

Food is love, I think.

My grandmother taught me to respect food, to respect the people you are cooking for. To cook with utmost care- to use the finest available materials, to make food vibrant and colorful. To make the food alive. She taught me that food is about detail ( while I was forking down the crust of a pie), that food is about sensations ( whil chopping up the pieces of a cooked tomato), that food is about blending and integrating ( while pouring white wine into spaghetti sauce), and that food shows people you care about them ( while peeling the skin from an apple). She said that food is life-giving ( while grating carrots), that food has history ( which schucking green beans).

I loved to cook with my grandmother. I loved my grandmother. I loved food. I loved going to the market with her- learning how to pick out the best produce, learning how to barter with the sellers. My grandmother taught me a lot about life in the kitchen.

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