Well Eaters, it has been a week of forgettable meals. I made tofu peanut noodles with vegetables and they were… so-so…kind of pasty for some reason, but okay. I slow cooked Mexican-themed chicken thighs and they were…alright. My husband and I puzzled over the missing flavor element; I included onions, tomatoes (fresh and fire-roasted) chilies and cilantro so what was amiss? But over brown rice it was passable. Last night I resorted to boxed macaroni and cheese but neglected to use enough of the packet of desiccated cheese facsimile and this garnered complaints. So I added shredded cheese and was told the dish was too cheesy (that’s like “too beautiful” or ”too wonderful”). My youngest did acknowledge that she was being “high maintenance.”
And so the joys of the kitchen have been elusive. Clearly the magic was gone, or at least on hiatus. On Sunday I declared myself sick of it all and took to my bed for several hours. I do this on occasion – nothing to worry about. My daughters knew that if they did not amuse themselves I was going to tell them to pick up their room, so they played together with manic enthusiasm. I was grateful for their fear-driven frolics because I wanted to read my biography of Julia Child in peace. Perhaps some time with that culinary giantess (did you know she was 6″3′?) would galvanize me into creating something that went beyond the merely edible.
But I couldn’t take to my bed in lavish, fading silent movie star fashion without something to eat. I picked the tomatoes, culled the leftovers (fresh mozzarella!), denuded my nearly threadbare basil plant and made this:
Luscious, yes? That dish is ready for her close-up. This spoke to me on such a deep level, I took it promptly to bed. It was the best thing I had made all week and was less orchestrated than any of the lackluster meals I had grimly churned out.
Tomatoes from the garden, fresh mozzarella (that I wish grew in my garden), and basil form the classic, time-tested trinity used medicinally to treat kitchen weariness. I discovered I prefer to get the zing from chili flakes rather than balsamic vinegar as is the way in the traditional Caprese salad. In fact, olive oil and chili flakes are a combination I am going to market as a health tonic. I call this dish Norma Desmond. Whip this up and take to your beds, Eaters. And if you haven’t seen Sunset Boulevard – the film noir gold standard – then all the more reason to curl up.
And now, if you don’t mind, I need to collapse into bed and groom my feather boa. If you have to ask, watch the movie.