The famous Kouign Amann
Last year Anthony Bourdain, who I felt very very strongly about (in the positive) at the time, held a writing contest. The theme was something like "How to Cook Well." I toyed with the idea of entering, but with a new baby in the house and low energy for anything but family, I never got around to it. I did jot down some notes during one late-night feeding though. Here they are.
My mise en place is set in small glass dishes. Tiny tomatoes from the farmer's market, rinsed. Parsley that could not be more local--I can see its terroir from the door. Organic chicken from some happy free-range farm. Lemon reamed on a vintage glass juicer. French feta, crumbled. The pasta is already cooked, cooled and coated with good olive oil. It's time to cook.
What I'm making is orzo and chicken salad with lemon dressing. The chicken: tender and be-garlicked. The dressing: cool kisses of lemon. When it's plated and done, I set it before the clients and watch. The guy with the beard likes it--he digs in. The one who is four, not so much. In fact, she hates it on sight. But it doesn't matter, I'm not hurt. I sit down to eat with them because when I cook for this family, I'm the best. I'm in the zone. They eat my "overcaramelized" (some might say "burned") Kouign Amann. They groan in appreciation at the crockpot chili (secret ingredient: bacon grease). They accept my incessant Vinho Verde or $4.99 Beaujolais pairings. (OK, only the adults get wine.) In turn, I try to remember their tastes and foibles. Eggplant is off the menu. Sectioned plates with discrete, not-touching foods are a must for madamoiselle. No matter how carefully I've seasoned something according to the recipe or my imaginings, I should always be prepared for clients to slather on tamari or hot sauce or ketchup. I stick to my standards and roll with it at the same time. That's cooking.