Nobody wants to be the person with the facebook addiction that is obsessed with airing their narcissistic crap in their status updates. You know them: they put something out there about the unfairness of their ex boyfriend/ girlfriend/ husband/ wife, something so numbingly cliched and oversimplified that it garners passionate responses from overly enthusiastic “friends” that have no real insight into the situation? You know what I’m talking about.
I was that person earlier this week and I am not too embarrassed to admit it. Well, I did erase all evidence of my self-satisfying rant, so maybe I’m a little ashamed of my middle school need to pull as many poor suckers as possible into my completely pedestrian, completely mundane drama. But OK, I had a moment.
Once upon a time there was a girl who dated a guy. The guy (we’ll call him Vanilli Willie) and the girl lived coasts and sometimes countries apart. It was not ideal, but Vanilli Willie and our girl had some real laughs, but then it was just time to say adios. Unfortunately, the pair never really had the conversation where it was officially over and a pretty big debt that Vanilli Willie owed the girl wasn’t settled. And our girl, ever the non-confrontational pushover, let Vanilli Willie get away with this douchey behavior and let it be a source of deep seeded resentment to herself, which is pretty silly on her part, no?
Anyway, the girl found out that Vanilli Willie somewhat recently got married to a nice and successful woman; and even though she had no interest in marrying, carrying on a relationship or even a conversation with Vanilli Willie herself, this newfound information brought up the old debt resentment and she threw one whopper of a pity party on facebook. The End.
And now that I’ve made a big deal out of this in not just one, but two hyper-public forums, I’d like to honor the concept OF MOVING ON by talking about scorpacciata-- an Italian term for eating a large amount of a seasonal food during its peak time, relishing it for all its worth (understanding its finiteness) and then moving on to the next seasonal item when that becomes available. Lets Call Him Mario posted a little something about this today on CNN’s eatocracy blog and it’s totally worth noting for both its culinary and broader (TMI narcissistic facebook rant) implications:
Now that he puts it that way... I suppose it was just time for me to move from asparagus to strawberries, figuratively, of course. Or whatever slightly more elegant foodstuff is on the horizon.
Which reminds me, once again, of my last dinner at the Baron’s palazzo in Florence. Bossy was talking about the lack of choices of greens we’d noticed during our stay (she’s a big fan), and the Baron reminded her that broccoli and the like wouldn’t be available until fall. Bossy, being a professional and all, of course, knew this, but at that moment I realized just how American (even if somewhat world savvy) we both are. Even though we give thought to the seasonality of what we eat (she WAYYYYYYYYYY more than I), as Americans and southern Californians in particular, we have year round access to tomatoes (some local, some not) and broccoli and all sorts of things that have a real season of growing, peak time and then ultimate extinguishment that we tend to ignore.
The Baron, in his regal and cool manner said, “I eat tomatoes like mad until September and then I don’t even think about them again until the next summer.”
That seems like a good thing to me. It’s silly to be dogmatic about only eating locally and seasonally because that’s what you have a cultural imperative to do (though to be fair, we’d all be a lot richer and healthier if we did it a little more), but I love this Italian attitude, perfectly articulated by both this Let’s Call Him Mario and the Baron. It appears like a healthy attitude towards food in general. Eat! Savor! Move on and don’t look back (until next year)!
So I guess this means that I’m having an epiphany about my personal life as well as my culinary one. I’m going to start busting out some rendition of The Mamas and the Papas in short order, I’m sure, though I promise not to make you listen to my pitchy-ness. I hope there is a time and a season for everything and that I’ll just eat it up and relish in the now, “like mad” and then move on to the next flavor. I’m going to try and forget about the tomato until next summer.
But I also imagine there may be an adolescent facebook tirade or two left in me. I’ll try to space them apart, just for good measure.
And the soup, the soup...
This week we left Italy for France (figuratively, of course), and I made a brandied onion soup with croque monsieur croutons, an herb salad with champagne vinaigrette, and a sea salt caramel ice cream for dessert. Nothing all that local or seasonal, for that matter. Rock out, whatever.
Bon Appétit | May 2001
A version of the famous Parisian ham-and-cheese sandwich pairs up with a classic soup.
Yield: Makes 6 servings
3 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 pounds onions, thinly sliced
4 14 1/2-ounce cans beef broth
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 to 2 tablespoons brandy
18 1/3-inch-thick slices of French bread baguette
2 cups grated Swiss cheese
1 cup coarsely chopped ham
Melt butter in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until dark brown but not burned, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Add broth, wine, and mustard and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until flavors blend, about 15 minutes. Add brandy to taste and simmer 5 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Arrange bread on baking sheet. Broil until beginning to color, about 1 minute. Mound cheese and ham on bread; sprinkle with pepper. Broil until cheese melts, turning sheet for even cooking, about 2 minutes.
Ladle soup into deep bowls. Top each with 3 croutons and serve.
The soup actually had a delicious, sweet, almost brandy-like taste before any of the cognac hit the pot. I sautéed the onions within an inch of their lives in butter, for what seemed like at least an hour. It was perfect, in any event, because they became a deep, caramel brown and were perfectly soft.
I find it interesting that almost every part of this meal had a component of being burned, quite literally; caramel is basically just-burned sugar and the onions for the soup, almost, too. That was totally unintentional on my part, but getting burned can sometimes be a really good thing, I guess.
I hope this transition into fall gives each and every one of us some new flavor to look forward to-- be it a school year, a lover, cauliflower or all of the above. And I hope we all attack that cauliflower until it’s time for asparagus again.