Tuesday, Mar. 30, 2004 - 9:31 a.m.
I am in a food slump. I am between tastes, and my kitchen is morose and frustrated.
I spent last fall in search of the perfect enchilada sauce. I would break chiles off my rapidly diminishing ristra, soak them in hot water, and then try to reduce the wet scraps to the right consistency before adding the right seasonings. I tried a food mill, a blender, a food processor, and hand dicing; the blender worked best, and the resulting dark red glop was good enough that I ate it with a spoon, cold, when I wasnít slathering it on corn tortillas with cheese and green onions.
Winter was marked by soup. I made sweet potato-peanut stew over couscous, soupy bean concoctions, vichyssoise, watercress soup, and fish stew. I made pizza, too, constantly, always adding fewer and fewer ingredients until my favorite meal was a slab of golden dough with only a light dusting of mozzarella, dried herbs, and pine nuts.
A week ago I thought the summer was upon me, and I bought a cucumber and too many grainy tomatoes. I bought chicken breasts, and I put sesame oil and rice vinegar on everything in my reach. But this lasted for only a few days. Cucumbers seem insipid now, and I was grossed out last night as I stood in the meat aisle poking at the naked chicken under taut plastic. Itís not time yet for light summery foods, but itís not time for soup, either.
The pizza I made a few days ago was tasteless. Even my favorite standby, the 15-minute garbanzo curry, hasnít been very good this past month. I happily eat apples and yogurt all day, but when I get home and stare at the mismatched contents of my refrigerator I feel a helplessness I seldom experience in the kitchen.
Some of my favorite foods are failing me. I have no desire to pour soy sauce over cubes of raw tofu and grated ginger. Broccoli sounds all wrong. I havenít made bread in a month.
Iím sick of the taste of my own cooking, partially. Everything L makes I devour in seconds, and the cold Spaghettios I ate straight out of the can tonight made me quite happy (they made the cat happy, too; yes, I know). I had a vivid memory today of a grilled cheese sandwich made for me by Aaron six years ago. I remember protesting his use of that plasticky American cheese, but he was right Ė the sandwich was perfect.
One obsession continues undiminished: my love for beer. Maybe Iíll find inspiration from that direction. Beer-cheese soup, chili, beer bread. Broiled asparagus with a Schlitz reduction. Porter and Stilton salad dressing. IPA-baked flounder.
I still like coffee, too.