I'm afraid I have a confession to make.
I'm not a good cook.
I mean, I thought I was. I really did. but now, now... I'm starting to doubt myself. I was raised with excellent cooking role models- I could name every PBS culinary personality, long before the advent of the Food Network. My father was the chef of the family, a titled passed on to him by his younger brother (a Diabetic pastry chef, who refused to abandon the trade.) My grandmother, well... she's inspired me to compile a cookbook, someday. My brother and I were always busy making a myriad of fresh baked cookies. Food was everywhere. And good food, too.
But looking back on some recent eating exploits, it seems that all of the successes have been collaborations. Amazing Monday night dinners with my former housemate and our respective fellows were totally a group effort. That trick of frying up slices of polenta in butter, topping with slices of fresh mozzarella, basil chiffonade and fresh tomatoes? Yet another housemate's recipe. Last week's kick-ass herbs de provence-rubbed roasted pork tenderloin served with wilted arugula and rice pilaf? I was sitting on the couch the whole time.
So it should have come as no surprise last night when my attempt at making something delicious failed. I grabbed pots and pans, wilted some onions, added garlic, toasted the rice, deglazed with white wine and prepared to make an awesome rice pilaf. Chicken stock, lots of salt (but still not enough?) some basil and other herbs. More garlic? No dice. Nothing seemed to do the 'flavor' trick.
So here I am, eating my self-described "rice with yellow" for lunch. It's fine. It has a flavor. But it could be so much more.
On my way to work this morning I caught a bit of and interview with Jacques Pépin, talking about his new book, More Fast Food My Way. I'll have to podcast the entire interview later, but in the snippet I heard he made some interesting points about food. It's not about The Golden Arches or the Slow Food Movement. 'Fast Food' doesn't have to be a bad thing, it is just food, fast. It can still be from scratch, it can still be delicious, but you don't have to spend your entire weekend preparing one meal.
Of course you still could, and he does. And I might. And I promise to strive for flavor. However, for the rest of this week I think I will stick to baking. That seems to be my true calling, anyhow.
Now, if only I could get my dad to hand over Uncle John's carrot cake recipe, I'd be in business.