Friday, April 13, 2007

"Beurre noir" is Just French for "Oops, I burned the butter!"

The Child cooked dinner last night.

"I'm not really in the mood," she said.

Given that I am not always in the mood either she received no sympathy. And it was a simple meal...white fish with kalamatas, roasted red peppers, garlic and lemon, wrapped up in parchment and baked. Not much prep or fussing involved. Cooking in parchment is one of my favorite methods, because it is quick and it assures minimal clean-up. Plus, there is the drama of opening a present at the dinner table.

The Child began to cook, grudgingly at first, but ended up, as she frequently does, talking to an imaginary camera as she prepares something on her fantasy cooking show.

We sat down to eat. Grace was said, wine poured. We opened our packets. It smelled wonderful. The fish was perfectly cooked and a half a roasted pepper sat jauntily atop my fish, like an over-sized beret. Bits of olive were scattered about and the fish seemed to be swimming in a puddle of olive juice. Interesting, I thought. Good way to introduce a little flavor.

"Oh!" said The Child, brightly and quite pleased with herself. "I tried a little variation. I cooked the fish on a bed of black sea salt".

Needless to say, the meal was inedible. Beds of sea salt, I explained, are for fish with the skin still on, but not for slender pieces of red snapper that are going to absorb all the salt. And then there was a welling of tears and a trembling of lip.

"Don't cry," I told her. "This is the mark of a true chef. Trust me, every cook worth their, um, salt, has made mistakes. In fact, there are lots of things that people cook today that were probably mistakes to begin with. So don't be sad and don't worry".

"I told you I wasn't in the mood to cook," she pouted.

No one starved. She made herself a bacon and mayo sandwich and The Spouse and I had grapes and cheese and crackers.

We have a saying in our house whenever someone tries a new recipe: "This is either going to be really good or it is really going to suck". It all started with "Tuscan White Beans" that was a horrible slop. But in cooking, as in life you have to try new things. You have to be willing to fail. You have to put that curry powder in the tuna salad so that you even up the score and your wife can bring it up every time you try to tease her about the Tuscan white beans. And sometimes you have to take that beautiful black sea salt and see what happens when you put fish atop it. It's how you learn.

Dinner tonight: BBQ take-out.

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