Sunday, January 3, 2016

originals: Spanish fondue carbonara or whatever

When I was a kid, because that's how I now see myself when I was in my early 20s - as a kid, the connection between my mood and cooking was much simpler. When I was happy and satisfied, I made tons of crepes, when I was sad and frustrated I baked bread everyday. I'd spend hours in silence, crying and kneading, before I was finally diagnosed with severe depression. In the meantime cooking became more of a source of joy than just a way to cope with stress. I started cooking for others. I started cooking for men, finding yet another way to pleasure them. In the last years I understood to full extent what it means to put love into what you cook. I grew, I bloomed, as a person and as a chef.

Now I hit a wall. With no-one to cook for and no strength to get up from bed I lost 20 lbs, because I simply can't be bothered. There's this expression in Polish, loosely translated to "to eat through one's reason," or something - that's what I do now. I explain to myself that I need to eat. Cooking is mostly out of the question. That makes days like today special.

I'm still browsing through recipes, a lot, and bookmarking, a lot. Mark Bittman's Cacio e Pepe spent some time among my saved links and today it seemed like a good thing to try. Simple enough, comfort-foody enough. I forced myself to go shopping in the cold (-14 degrees), dragged myself back to the apartment and, I don't know, something just happened. That small, barely noticeable magic, when you look at the ingredients around you and just allow yourself to be silly and have fun.

In my fridge, there was an open bottle of my favourite white, vino turbio (cloudy wine), that I just brought back from Spain. Why use water, when you can use fresh, tangy, slightly yeasty wine? The cheese and the wine mixed together immediately reminded me of fondue, and I simply can't have fondue without a ton of nutmeg. So there it went. Freshly ground pepper, freshly grated nutmeg, a touch of cayenne for that extra kick, not that it needed one. Bittman wrote to use good olive oil, and there it was, on the table, a 5l bottle of the most amazing Spanish olive oil so delicious, I could drink it just like that, from a glass. I couldn't wait for the pasta to finish cooking, I checked it every five seconds. I started thinking of something more to add to the sauce to stop doing that. Egg-yolk, why, yes, please. As far as I'm concerned egg-yolks should go into everything.

Believe me, the result was stunning.

"We're completely different in the way that we cook. She's always looking for new recipes and trying them out, I just go through the fridge and the pantry, see what we have and try to figure out what to make from it." That's what he often said about us. Now he's gone. So I guess I have to do both.