Friday, July 31, 2009

A Whole Lotta Love

In the first post of this blog I talked about my friends Steve and Kolet. Steve read the blog and shared this thought:
"Recipes are the documentation of someone else's work. For those without any imagination or creativity, it's a way of re-creating a dish, not unlike paint-by numbers. You may think you are artistic, but we know the difference. Recipes are valuable as a reference tool, a piece of research for you to consider when you start to create your own dish. I have 100's of cookbooks, and have never duplicated a single one of any of their recipes. Hell, I don't even cook my own recipes the same way twice. Each new version becomes a refinement of the last attempt. Each time, trying to get closer to the perfection I see and taste in my mind. My current quest has been for the perfect homemade Pastrami. After 5 years of diligence, I will tell you I'm getting close.

Kolet reminded me about that time that you house sat for us in Fresno, and all you asked for was a box of cereal and a pot of bacon chili. When we returned home the box was partially full, but the pot of bacon chili was gone.

What a joy to be remembered by good friends with an association of good shared food."
God, I want some pastrami right now.

I did house sitting for Steve and Kolet one summer when we were in college. Most of my friends had gone home for the summer and I chose to beat the Fresno heat by staying in, playing with their dog Pischer, reading, and listening to music.

My soundtrack was a vinyl compilation of Warner Brothers artists titled "Superstars of the Seventies," featuring "Run, Run, Run" by Jo Jo Gunne, "Doctor My Eyes" by Jackson Browne, "Paranoid" by Black Sabbath, and Led Zepplin's "Whole Lotta Love."

I loved being in their kitchen; it was really interesting to spend time and examine how they stocked their pantry: which ingredients they chose and how much they stocked (seeing what somebody buys in bulk can tell you a lot).

The layout of the kitchen reflected their free-wheeling but practical sensibilities. They had a wonderful wooden counter on wheels - originally intended as a gurney, but happily rescued before ever put to that use. Kolet explained that the height of it was perfect for her to kneed bread dough.

So I made my first bread in that house. I made dark, rich, unleavened herbal bread and several loaves of pale, puny french bread. They looked anemic but actually tasted pretty good.

So I settled into their easy chair with Pischer beside me, and feasted on fresh bread while listening to "Whole Lotta Love."

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