Saturday, January 31, 2015

Does the Social Universe Bend Toward Informality?

Continuing from my last posting - where I noted that all it takes is one person to break the spell of self-seriousness and make anyone else affecting that pose come off like a complete buffoon...

One of the things I did right with Chowhound (I did plenty wrong, too) was cracking that nut early and often. When I launched the site, I was a reasonably well-known food writer and author. I wasn't stuck up about it; I never imagined (as a well-known colleague once confessed to me) that no one's food is truly eaten until I'd eaten it. I knew I had reliable taste, knowledge and experience, but I also knew lots of other people did, too. In fact, that's exactly why I opened Chowhound; to give them a podium.

And since I - the established expert guy who ran the operation - never pulled rank, neither could anyone else! This, more than anything, helped the site grow into a non-heirarchical community. It's impossible to act like a regal know-it-all when the regal know-it-all in charge opts out of all that. Like I said, it's a magic trick!
If just one person knighted by the Queen makes light of being called "Sir", something magical happens; anyone who doesn't is instantly transformed into a prig. It's a wonderful trick (and one Pope Francis has mastered....the papacy will never be the same).
Perhaps this is why we seem to be becoming, over time, a less formal, lower-gravitas world. As people keep breaking that spell, a ripple effect discourages others from affecting the pose. In the long run, this process may eventually wipe out self-seriousness and arrogance (or at least public displays of those things).

But while we're a much lower gravitas culture than we once were, we're still not all that far along in the progression. My goofy informality has never really worked out for me.

Doctor Superior

Never trust anyone with a PhD who calls themselves "Doctor".

Why? Because so many people with doctorate degrees don't do this that it leaves those who do looking plainly ridiculous (and proves, once again, that arrogance is elective).

I used to occasionally make public appearances with another food writer - a very pompous one. When we'd take questions from the audience, and someone would defer on a question of taste to my more "expert" palate, and I'd point out the absurdity of the notion of anyone having an authoritative digestive track, my colleague would get furious with me. By downplaying my expertise, I was undercutting his, too. I was ruining everything! I can't tell you how much I relished this.

If just one person knighted by the Queen makes light of being called "Sir", something magical happens; anyone who doesn't is instantly transformed into a prig. It's a wonderful trick (and one Pope Francis has mastered....the papacy will never be the same).

Groucho Marx was deeper than you might have realized.*

*- In fact, one might describe Pope Francis as the first post-Groucho pope.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Fourth Wave

There was a (drug-spurred) spirituality craze in the 1960s, a ("self-improvement" oriented) meditation craze in the 1970s*, and a (fitness-minded) yoga craze in the 00s. None was very deep, but that's normal. The "gourmet" craze of the early 1960s would have made present-day chowhounds wretch, with its canapés, fondues, and other empty frenchy gestures. Pretentiously superficial, and remarkably unconcerned with actual deliciousness; hey, at least it was a stepping stone!

*- This is a classic must-read

An incipient movement toward more sober spiritual practice has been approaching critical mass for some time. I doubt it's driven by errant maturation among "hot yoga" adherents (having bent and stretched themselves to profundity), but however it's happening, it's happening. If this Slog has sometimes struck you as a notch or three too woo-woo (or "out there"), consider that the majority of my friends in the early 1990s found my fascination with food incredibly ditzy - perhaps indicative of psychic breakdown. Being perennially ahead of curves isn't something to boast about; it's as uncomfortable as any other way of being out of step with one's world. But at least maybe I can be early in pointing out that this is coming.

To understand what's previously been lacking, consider the rallying cry "Be Here Now", the title of an incredibly influential (over two million copies sold) book which defined its era. Since its publication in 1971, millions have struggled to follow that instruction; to "be here now". To live wholly in the present.

There's something to that...kinda. But for fresh perspective, always try flipping stuff. In this case, ask yourself whether anyone's ever not been right here, right now. Have you, or anyone else, ever spent even a moment in the past or future?

"Tomorrow never yet
On any human being rose or set."
-- Joshua Marsden

"No matter where you go... there you are."
-- Buckaroo Banzai

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Let it Not Snow

Well, #Snowmageddon2015 didn't happen - or, more accurately, happened 150 miles east of where it was expected to happen - and a surprising number of people have been threatening and berating weathermen (like this great indie forecaster working in the Hudson Valley, who was actually one of the first to reduce the snowfall forecasts, and who offered a well-humored explanation of yesterday's failure here).

Something happened differently than authorities said it would, and a few of us have gone absolutely nuts. When people act irrationally, it often helps to consider the opposite cause. In this case, I don't think it's disrespect for authorities doing their best with uncertain models and unpredictable circumstances. I think it's a question of over-respect on the part of their critics. People who get their dander up over scientific shortfalls are people who never understood how science works in the first place, and who therefore placed too much confidence in it. The rest of us laugh off this result, or perhaps grumble a bit, but there are those whose worlds are rocked when authorities (political or technical) fail them. As with idealists imploding into cynicism, their bitterness surprises the rest of us.

These are the same guys who brought out pitchforks and torches after the government failed to spot and prevent a dozen scruffy terrorists from taking over planes with box cutters and driving them into buildings. They weren't fellow citizens with a more vehement sense of outrage. They're a different element entirely. They're people who'd assumed authorities are omnipotent (the same misconstrual fueling conspiracy theorists). As a result of their daft pique, we all must endure security theater at airports, where the government makes damn sure that highly visible measures are in place to prevent scruffy terrorists with box cutters from ever flying planes into buildings again.

In this case, it will be that much harder to get certain folks to take future weather emergencies seriously. Most of us will continue heeding forecasts, knowing full well nothing's ever certain. But for a certain element, the paradigm's been blown wide open, and they'll never fully trust again. The problem of course, is that no one ever backs down from "full trust" to a more appropriate level of trust. They back down all the way. Human reaction is always a matter of reciprocal pendulum swings.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sherlock Homeslice Strikes Again

Check yesterday's post for the answer to "Name that Nationality!"

Name That Nationality!

I'm feeling very proud of myself. I looked up at this deli and instantly knew where the owners are from. Can you guess? I'll post the answer tomorrow.

They're Moroccan. Specifically: Berbers!

I knew it, went inside to confirm it, and the guy didn't seem particularly surprised I'd figured it out. Go figure....

Friday, January 23, 2015

Aficionados, Snobs, Hipsters, and Garbled Writing

I did a crap job with a recent posting, "Aficionados, Snobs, and Hipsters". It was originally written as an epilog to " Aficionados and Snobs: The Money Angle ", but I just put it up as a stand-alone...where it seemed incoherent.

I've reworked it, and now it's better. So please consider re-reading.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Unconventional Means of Establishing Familiarity

I so admire this spamming gambit. Spammers Kevin Lantz, Carl Ashton, and someone named Charlize have been emailing me for many years now. Their stuff goes directly to my junk folder, but I browse that folder periodically to ensure I'm not losing good mail. And as I do, I become more and more familiar with their names. So much so that it's only a matter of time before an email from one of them evades my spam filter, and I remark, pleasantly, "oh, look, an email from Carl!" and do something I've never done before: click and read. I won't actually buy anything of course, but in the fervid battle of spammers trying to attract my attention, it will be their biggest win in two decades.

In the 1980's, my friend Frank lived at the corner of First Avenue and 10th Street in Manhattan - a notorious corner for pot dealers at the time (nowadays, you're more likely to be offered a share of a limited liability partnership with favorable tax benefits). Each time he came home, he'd be mobbed by guys hissing "Smoke? Smoke? Smoke?". He tried reasoning with them. "Look," he told one dealer, "I live right here. And I don't buy pot. Is there any chance you can just leave me alone?" "Sorry, dude," he replied. "A ton of people go by here every day; it's impossible to remember every face."

I proposed a solution. Every time Frank went in or out of his building, and was approached by a dealer, I suggested that he look meaningfully into the guy's face and say, simply, "Rice Chex". Repeat for a day or so with every dealer he encountered, and Frank would forevermore be the guy who says "Rice Chex" (he wouldn't even need to keep saying "Rice Chex"). And the guy who says Rice Chex doesn't buy drugs. Problem solved!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Anti-Muslim Backlash

I like most Muslim people.

However, I don't like crazy hateful murderous Muslims (or, for that matter, crazy hateful murderous anybody).

See what I did there? That's a distinction. The ability to make one of those might not seem like much, but it's a rare feat in year 2015. After 7000 years of human civilization, even our best and brightest seem incapable of drawing the simplest of distinctions when their emotions (particularly their fear and anger) are the least bit roused.

So, once again, it pains me to observe that a great many Muslim restaurant and business owners are presently getting the cold shoulder from their erstwhile friends and proudly multicultural neighbors. Consider going out tonight, or some night soon, for Egyptian or Persian or Indonesian or Lebanese food, to show these neighbors some human solidarity.

Will we human beings ever learn to react to extremism with enlightened moderation rather than with reciprocal extremism?

Aficionados, Snobs, and Hipsters

Completing my trilogy of musings re: aficionados and snobs (part one here, part two there)...

Chowhounding (or fashionhounding, or any other sort of hounding) is hard. There are a thousand cheese danishes in the naked city, and nearly all of them suck. Scoring a great one is like finding a needle in a haystack. Faced with that dizzying task, most people would reluctantly turn to "the best place in town", which is usually the most expensive place in town with the biggest publicity budget in town. Such places may churn out fancy-looking stuff with fancy-sounding ingredients, but it's usually a loveless shiny show, unlikely to provide deeper deliciousness. Somewhere, an elderly Polish woman stolidly bakes unloved splendor in her unexceptional-appearing bakery, praying earnestly under her breath as she rolls out the pastry. She is our grail.

Redemption isn't to be found in heightened splendor, it's in the quest for the heartfelt. And that quest is a tough one, so while we may fight the good fight in one narrow realm or another, we all inevitably settle for mediocrity in most realms. Your clothes are complacent. Or your furniture. Or your pens and pencils. So there's no good reason to judge people for being lazy or clueless about the area in which you happen to focus.

I really respect hipsters. They, alone, aspire to a consistent level of all-consuming omni-fetishization most of us (me included) consider supremely annoying.

Aficionados and Snobs: The Money Angle

Two postings down, in my posting about aficionados and snobs, commenter Adam said:
A little bit to the side of the post, but Gertrude Stein has the following quote: “You can either buy clothes or buy pictures. It’s that simple. No one who is not very rich can do both.”
That's not at all to the side. It strikes at a key point. When you hear this sort of language (in the realm of fashion, food, home decor, art, or just about anything else under the sun):
How can any thinking human being imagine that it's sufficient for clothes to merely protect us from the elements? "Better-than-shabby" is an awfully low bar; fashion should say something, and this shirt says nothing, except that its wearer is a lazy conformist who really couldn't give a damn about quality."
.... it's natural to assume we're being urged to spend more.

Non food lovers frequently misunderstood the Chowhound credo, figuring it was just another example of clueless class snobbery - Mrs. Howells curling their lips at the atrocious garbage we scarf when we ought to be enjoying the far more refined fare at, say, Petrossian. "Let us eat cake"! Of course, that completely misses the point, which is that anything you might eat for $3 or $30 or $300 can be eaten hyperdeliciously at the same price point by simply trying harder and venturing further.

But in realms we don't care about, aficionado-ism always seems snobbish and spendy. I wouldn't know where to find an exceptional and soulful t-shirt, but that's just because I haven't invested the time; when it comes to fashion (and any number of other human endeavors) I'm as complacent as any Olive Garden patron. Shame me for my complacency, and I'll always figure you're urging me to spend up, because we're conditioned to assume better costs more .

The same would happen if you shamed an Olive Garden patron. They'd assume you're Mrs. Howelling them.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Aficionados and Snobs

I was hanging out with another food lover recently. He was telling me how he absolutely can't understand why people eat such terrible food. It was my old Chowhound rap: why settle when you can work a little harder, travel a little further, to enjoy utter delight? How can one eat dreck when artisans, holdouts and geniuses are crafting deep deliciousness outside the spotlight and who could direly use our support?

But while I always made that argument as an enticement to those lucky people who have yet to discover how much more delicious their lives can be, he was saying it snobbishly. People who eat at chains aren't just missing out; they're repulsive. An inferior form of human life!

I calmly pointed to my t-shirt. "This," I said, "is a J Crew t-shirt. It's comfortable, it's stylish, it costs more than most t-shirts, and I had to go just a bit out of my way to buy it. I'm well-protected from the elements, and I'm happy with the feel and presentation of it. No one could possibly say I look shabby.

"But there are people who know fashion like we know food. To them, my wearing of this shirt is an unforgivable atrocity. I bought it in a shopping mall, from a chain, for god's sake, opting for easy bland convenience while artisans, holdouts and geniuses who need our support are out there crafting heartfelt and beautiful garments. How can any thinking human being imagine that it's sufficient for clothes to merely protect us from the elements? "Better-than-shabby" is an awfully low bar; fashion should say something, and this shirt says nothing, except that its wearer is a lazy conformist who really couldn't give a damn about quality."

"Only idiots obsess over clothes," he replied, with a scowl.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Dialogue on Suffering

A mystic's stress dream:

Vladimir: Suffering's optional, you know. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is voluntary.

Estragon: I can assure you that I'd never have chosen to suffer as I have!

Vladimir: Why do you say that with such anger?

Estragon: Because I'm offended that you'd minimize my suffering.

Vladimir: How is it an affront to minimize suffering? Isn't minimization the goal?

Estragon: If you'd incurred the hardships that I have, you wouldn't minimize it either! You don't know my pain, so you have no right to attack my suffering.

Vladimir: Are you defending suffering?

Estragon: No, I'm finding you glib and insensitive.

Vladimir: To suggest suffering isn't inevitable is the antithesis of insensitivity. But before I could explain my reasoning, you took up the pro-suffering side of the argument. How can someone not get the impression that suffering's dear to you, when you argue in its defense?

To be in love is to ferociously oppose threats to one's beloved. And over the eons, billions of humans have fallen in love with their pain. Understanding this explains a lot of strange behavior.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Bad Nights

Old vaudville joke:

Q: Why are you hitting yourself in the head with a hammer??
A: Because it feels so good when I stop!

I'm playing at Manhattan's famed Village Vanguard with the Illinois Jacquet band, circa 1990, and am having the mother of all bad nights. My tone is thin, my tuning is horrendous (I've been adjusting all night, but it never locks in), and nothing will project. Worst of all, several audience members, including students of mine, have come specifically to hear me play. I am unnerved. Having played into what felt like a headwind all night, I'm covered with sweat.

Finally, we're playing the closing song, Jacquet's theme "Flying Home", which features a particularly vehement lick from the trombone section. I muster all my wind and let it rip....and my plastic contact lens case shoots out of the bell, gliding like an air hockey puck across the floor of the nightclub, spinning wildly, and finally coming to rest near the back wall.

The remarkable thing is how fantastic I felt for the gig's remaining 90 seconds. I was trombone Superman. My sound was obscenely lush and round, my tuning impeccable, and it all felt just so incredibly easy. No other experience in my life has come close to matching the joy of those 90 seconds.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Obama's Legacy

We've all heard the litany of attacks on Obama. I was watching early (because, being old, I have a leg up on how things are likely to go; not easily caught up in the inertia of it all, I can watch, clear-eyed, from the sidelines) and spotted talking heads calling him a socialist - and worse - before he'd done a single thing. The stuff they've been saying about him preceded any actual actions on his part. The right's "Obama presidency" preceded the actual Obama presidency, and has been a parallel, completely untethered presence all along.

Which is not unusual. As Amazon chief Jeff Bezos says in this recent marathon interview (a rare thing for him):
I’ve been a public figure. You get used to everything being wrong about you. Anytime you think you know a public figure from their media … you really don’t.
I had a very small taste of that during the Chowhound years, and found it so repulsive that I concluded that only extreme egomaniacs - those desperately yearning to see their names writ large - would willingly undergo it. If a food web site dude can get a taste of that, it's no surprise that the parallel false-imaging ratchets up so monumentally with presidents. It comes with the gig.

You know what Goebbels said about oft-repeated lies. But that's only half the problem. The big surprise with Obama has been that a guy who's so accomplished with communication during campaigns has ruled almost entirely without flexing those same muscles. Even he himself sees this as a problem:
“If there’s one thing that I regret this year, it is that we were so busy just getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of us that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are.”
He said that back in 2010! Obviously, the problem continued. As an insightful must-read article in the latest NY Magazine argues, Obama's been putting his head down and making things happen, without the slightest regard for ensuring it's recognized and appreciated at the time. And now that the smoke is cleared, a case could be made that he's actually performed quiet miracles.

I don't mean just the improving economy. That stuff cycles, and we assign blame and credit to whoever draws the unlucky end of the cycle - though Democrats have seemed awfully lucky over the past half century. However, the fact that our economy is beginning to look about as bright as it's ever been (Mitch McConnell says it's just public jubilation at midterm election results) certainly stands as staunch contradiction to all that howling over the bail-out (we got our money back), ObamaCare (it's doing great), suspension of tax cuts for the mega wealthy, and a host of other Obama decisions supposedly certain to wreck things.

See Andrew Tobias rebuff the usual misinformation here (he does so in a quite harsh way, despite being a polite, affable felow; having apparently been heckled via email for years by a Republican reader this was his public explosion). Per that NY Magazine piece, Obama's decisions have turned out right much more often than they've turned out wrong. He just hasn't gloated enough.

In such a bifurcated society, I sometimes feel like the only one recognizing Obama as a centrist/moderate (to the right, he's a Marxist, to the left, he's a DINO). And being a centrist/moderate myself, I've had high hopes for him. He's disappointed me several times (e.g. drones, NSA privacy, massive deportations), aside from his many unavoidable realpolitik grim compromises. But I didn't love everything Mayor Bloomberg did, either, yet I've sadly wagged my head at the public's failure to recognize that he "reigned selflessly and with great passion and competence, motivated entirely by civic-mindedness."

We don't get many menschy politicians; they're mostly crooks, hacks and egotists. If we don't duly appreciate the good (though imperfect) ones, we indeed deserve the government we (usually) get. Give that NY Magazine piece a read, and see if it doesn't transform your outlook.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

I Am Not Charlie/Je ne suis pas Charlie

Savage mocking of the most important thing in the lives of an impoverished minority in your own country is the height of asshole-dom. Majoritarians doing this merely to revel in their unfettered right to do so are worse, still.

Being an asshole, however, is not a capital offense. And I deeply support the right of anyone to speak freely. To name an extreme example, I supported the American Nazi Party's right to march in Skokie (home to numerous holocaust survivors at the time). But I certainly didn't proclaim, at the time, "I am a Nazi", nor would I have done so if the marchers had been massacred (though I'd have been enraged by such a result).

Update: David Brooks, it turns out, used the same headline, in Thursday's NY Times. Not quite the same point, however. But still worth a read.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

George's New Piano

A music story, apropos of yesterday's posting:

In my early 20's, I used to sit in in a black bar in Jamaica Queens, down near the airport, called the Skylark Lounge. I had made an effort to meet and play with as many of the musicians who'd played with saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk as I could, and his drummer, Walter "Baby Sweets" Perkins, worked here, and sometimes his pianist, Rahn Burton, too. It was a hard-swinging, high-spirited roadhouse (with good soul food, to boot!), but the downside was the awful electric piano. An off-brand model at least 20 years old with cigar burns on several of its cheap plastic keys, it sounded like a children's toy, and frustrated house pianist George Grannum's best efforts.

One day, I stopped by and found George setting up a new instrument, a state-of-the-art synthesizer. Capable of simulating string sections and wind chimes, it had obviously cost him an arm and a leg. It was entirely too fancy for the task of jazzy/bluesy piano playing in a gin mill, and, sure enough, right in the middle of "Embraceable You", George hit a wrong button and the room was filled with a cacophony of space laser sound effects. No one found it amusing. It was a disaster.

Soon afterward, I left town to play a tour, so it was a few months before I returned to the Skylark. Walking in the door, I was stunned by what I heard. George had apparently tamed his high-tech beast, and was happily playing away, having found a way to make it sound exactly like his old piano.

When the band took a break, I shook George's hand, and congratulated him for mastering his sophisticated new instrument. Yeah, he replied, weightily, it'd taken a whole lot of work, but he'd finally gotten it to sound just the way he wanted it.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Albatross of Me

Over the past few months, I've bought some new kitchen equipment, experimented with unfamiliar techniques and ingredients, and even took the unthinkable step (for a confirmed improviser) of following a recipe or two.

Here's why. I'd been cooking more than ever, and getting better at it. But my limitations were growing more and more apparent. All my food shared a similar flavor and personality, and I yearned to go broader.

I remain obsessed by weird pasta visions, but I also want to make real Italian-style pasta. I don't want to fry a lot, but when I do, I want to fry like an Arkansas grandma. I want to produce a much wider spectrum of deliciousness. I want to be free. But, paradoxically, as I've taken steps to broaden my cooking, the constraints haven't budged an inch. Everything still has that same uniform personality. It's creepy. I can't escape it.

Finally, I realized, with both horror and amused familiarity, what's been going on: I've acquired enough skill and experience to have developed - and congealed into - my "style" of cooking. And that's a prison.

This insight is nothing new for me. I can write in a number of different voices; perhaps five or six of them. But that's it. Within each, I find myself to be inescapably consistent (though the substance of what I'm saying, thank god, is less rigidly repetitive). Same with music. I'd surprise you with my versatility as a trombonist, but don't be fooled; I can dip into a number of "bags", but only rarely do I manage to play in a completely fresh way (though individual note choices are more spontaneous). Artists yearn to be free, but I just can't escape me.

It makes sense that at the very moment when I've finally gained confidence as a cook (and a critical mass of friends eagerly solicit dinner invitations), I've noticed the steely bars of my own cage. I've been trapped yet again.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

We're Outstripping Our Own Sci-Fi Future

2015 not only sounds super-futuristic, it actually demonstrably is. We're outstripping our own science fiction future.

We've passed the futures depicted in Clockwork Orange (set in 1995), Escape From New York (1997), Stranger In A Strange Land (late 1990's) and Silent Running (2008). And, of course, 1984 and 2001 are long gone (in fact, 1984's as distant from us as 1953 was in 1984).

We'll soon overtake Logan’s Run (2016), Blade Runner (2019), and Soylent Green (2022).

Still, a few futuristic classics remain in our future. We're not even halfway through the timeline of Asimov's I, Robot stories (1998 through 2052), and The Terminator (2029), Fahrenheit 451 (circa 2053), Minority Report (2054), Alien (2122), The Matrix (2199), Brave New World (2540), and Dune (20,000 years in the future) remain on our distant horizon.

Alarmingly, I wasn't able to establish exactly when we need to start worrying about those damned apes taking over. So be safe out there.

Weirdo Pasta

I've had a vision for a style of pasta dish in my head for a very long time, and over the past couple of years, I've occasionally pulled it off. This is definitely not Italian-style pasta (my Sicilian friend Paul saw the ingredient list of one recent effort and asked, with incredulity, "What are you trying to make, soup??"). Don't ask me why, but something deep inside is driving me to make this really weird pasta. And the other night I rang the bell. I have no idea whether this is duplicable, but it worked beautifully for me! Here goes:

In a large skillet, I sautéed four skinless chicken thighs, lightly dusted with smoked paprika, in a little olive oil.

I removed the chicken, wiped away the oil (but not the brown clumps), added some turkey stock, and 2 carrots, sliced. I also added a good amount of marjoram, a TB of olive oil, some black pepper, and a shake of Tabasco. Once it started simmering, I dropped the heat and covered the skillet. Toward the end, I added a handful of fresh cilantro (did you know it's carried at Trader Joe's?).

When the moisture was absorbed and the carrots were soft-to-the-fork (but not super soft), I removed them, added 2 TBS olive oil to the pan, heated it, and added back the carrots, the chicken, and some broccolini (steamed and cut into short pieces) and a handful of baby spinach leaves, as well as four chopped scallions (I was out of onions, or I'd have started all this by sautéing some). I briefly stir fried, then added some previously cooked rigatoni that was chilling in the fridge (to reduce its glycemic index*) along with a couple pinches of chili flakes and some ground Parmesano, stirring very well.

* - I'm not diabetic, but have noticed that athletes and nutritionists have been paying increasing heed to glycemic content.

I removed the skillet's contents before the pasta became fully hot (which would have undone the glycemic reduction), and deglazed the pan with more turkey stock, adding a bay leaf (critical!) and a pinch of salt (I don't cook with much salt; this was the only sodium aside from the Parmesano and whatever was in the stock). I poured the reduced liquid over the pasta, and, as the French say, walla.

Absence of photos confirms the deliciousness.

Note that the carrot cooking technique - with marjoram, cilantro, black pepper, EVOO, and slow moist cooking - diffuses every iota of the usual flavor of cooked carrots, which I hate. Until you've made carrots this way, don't think you can envision the result. These are cooked carrots for haters of cooked carrots, and they're surprisingly versatile.

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