- Pork rinds
- Rigid ideology
- The smell of fish sauce
- Waking up early
- Rachel Ray cookbooks
- Donna Tartt novels
It isn’t a comprehensive list, just a few current, top-of-mind thoughts. I include them here in case you’re thinking of leaving, in case one of your New Year’s resolutions is to declutter your inbox by drawing a firm “Keep/Toss” line, and you haven’t yet decided where to put me. Knowing these things about me may help make up your mind.
I should also list a few of my likes, I suppose, even though they’re pretty predictable if you’ve been here a while:
- Dark chocolate
- Wines from Burgundy
- The sound of my children laughing
- Bernard’s tamales
Oh, and coffee. I do like coffee. I received an Aeropress for Christmas, and it makes the most delicious coffee. If you, too, like coffee, but you decide you’re ditching me, then consider that tip a parting gift.
It is ok if you decide our likes and dislikes don’t match, decide that you are leaving. I will miss you, but believe me I’ve done my share of de-friending, really I have. So I understand the drill, start to finish, from both sides. Sometimes simplifying is the only way to feel sane or safe. It is how things must go, sometimes.
As I get older I see it as funny (meaning peculiar) how we all, each and every one of us, walk around like horseshoe magnets, collecting friends, followers and belongings as if they were iron shavings so we can craft a picture of our choosing, using our polarizing ends to move them around.
We get into trouble, though, when we have to deal with other magnets that have powers of their own. Whose magnet will have more pull, who will get the most shavings? How will we handle that whole positive-negative thing, when you pull my picture in a different direction? It’s all a little overwhelming, honestly, the reality of the physical laws, the mysteries of quantum physics, the implausible sub-atomic quirks that magically keep the whole thing spinning.
Sometimes it’s easiest just to avoid the whole magnet-to-magnet endeavor, to cull or ignore anything different or challenging, to stick merely to collecting the nearest iron shavings, those easily attracted to our pull.
Once, when I was much younger, I repelled grapefruit and Brussels sprouts. I was not alone. All humans, it seems, are born with a preference for sweet tastes. Bitterness, to infant taste buds, sends a biological signal of poison.
Over time, though, sweet and bitter have become good companions for me, the two of them together. Every poison may be bitter, perhaps; but not everything bitter is poisonous.
So I’m not ruling out pork rinds for eternity. Already I tolerate the awful small of fish sauce for its wonderful addition to flavor; I’ve just learned to avoid inhaling when I pour it. And though rigid ideology probably doesn’t ever stand a chance, Rachel and Donna might grow on me.
Maybe you and I can be like that, too. Maybe, even if we have conflicting likes and dislikes, even if today’s our last hurrah, we could be a couple of magnets, making pictures of our choosing, together.
It occurred to me to have an all-French menu this week. I also thought of having an all-Algerian one. In the end I picked neither. The right to be me is mine, a great privilege for which I am thankful. This week we’ll have a few things I like, one of which even includes fish sauce.
Easy and good. Although I’ll make two batches, one with broccoli and the other with broccoli raab. Parmesan all around.
Lebovitz adapted a classic recipe from Simple Thai Food: Classic Recipes from the Thai Home Kitchen by Leela Punyaratabandhu to simplify the process for weeknight cooking. His suggestions for substitutions are good, and, as a bonus, his posts are always pretty to look at.
So, this is a recipe for a weekend day, a day when you have time for hours-long simmering. And this is a fun recipe to read in its 1954 form: no California bay leaves. No, no, no.
Corn Chowder with Green Chiles (Vegetarian Times)
I don’t have fresh corn from last summer waiting in my freezer; regular frozen corn will do just fine. I do have frozen roasted New Mexico green chiles, though, and I’ll be using those instead of fresh Anaheim or poblano. Look in your freezer section for Hatch chiles if you want to make a similar substitution.
Easy and good. C’est tout.
All words and images belong to me, Jennifer Balink. If you’d like to borrow, please ask first.