Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Faith Cooking

This took seven minutes to cook, and was a near-10 (on my surprisingly non-ditzy system for rating stuff). Please click to enlarge (as-is, it's a bit too small for full impact).

Sometimes cooking is about restraint and faith rather than technique or effort. A "letting" rather than a "doing". You can pull off a magic trick if you tighly harness your clear-minded, emotionally-engaged sense of taste (i.e. how you like it; how you'd like it to be) to your actions. If you make that connection, you don't need to do much.

Don't think about cooking. Think about eating, and let this framing fuel your myriad micro-decisions. "How will it look and taste?" Keep your attention firmly there, and don't let up for a moment. You can make it exist if you hold close and care enough. It's harder to do with a lamb stew requiring 30 ingredients and 75 steps. But simplicity, like this, is easier. And also harder.
Simplicity is easier because you don't need to worry much. You don't need to divide your attention or sustain your vision through time and travails. You can do the whole thing essentially in one single swoop (no one's ever driven to Boston, but this is a quick drive to the corner store). It's harder because there's no safety net; no complexity to hide behind; no formula to carry you. You are raw; naked; vulnerable. Just you and your decisions, revealing the commitment/faith/love (or lack of same) behind them.
The recipe below is like a joke. As with Von's Magical Cookies, you won't get special results from brutishly following these handful of "duh" steps. There's no magic to be found here, but I already told you the trick. It's up to you to commit.

Bring water to boil, then boil five Trader Joe's Beef Bolognese Ravioli for five minutes.

Slice three compari tomatoes and sautee briefly/lightly/gently in nonstick pan with a handful of baby spinach, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Don't cook it into a mush. Think about how you'd like it to be, and stop cooking the instant that point arrives; like clicking a camera button (remember how I suggested making toast!). The more you apply deep emotional micro-vigilance, the better your cooking - and everything else - will get!

Grate a bit of parmesano into the tomato mixture, still in the pan. Don't make it a Nebraska Sprinkle. Don't stir. Add another couple teaspoons olive oil plus some chili flakes to the mixture. And a tablespoon of cooking water. Stir very slightly. Do very little.

Drain ravioli. Cut each sloppily (I opt for deliberately sloppy - even raggedy - cuts about 75% of the time in my cooking) in half, and toss in a serving bowl with tomato mixture. Don't over-mix. Cease and desist the instant it looks like something you'd kill to eat. I just buried the lede again.


Again: that recipe absolutely won't yield this result. As they say in jazz, learn it, practice it, then forget it. Make it a fluent swoop - a single drive to Boston - never losing track of end result. Align your myriad micro decisions around your vision of how you like it. Not in the big cartoon view ("See how diligent I am!"), but in the micro. Deep into the micro! Take responsibility for your actions! :)

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