Saturday, May 21, 2011

Like a Radish

I've had several days off this week at the end of my spring quarter and have found myself with quite a bit of free time. Thursday, I rode my bike to Blue Line Coffee to sip espresso and read a great new book borrowed from my friend Liz. Blue Line has these great windows in the front of the shop, which are ideal for people-watching. Sitting and stealing glances at a group of college-age hipsters playing Scrabble outside, it occurred to me that life doesn't get much better than it is right now.

I had wasted the earlier part of that same afternoon nursing along an onion soup from Mastering the Art of French Cooking and assembling an Italian pear tart. The apartment had this musky earthy aroma, subtle in its sweetness like the sun setting over the plains--you only get it if you look up. It took hours for the onions to caramelize. The pears from the tart were so soft they were very nearly falling apart as syrup pooled on my counter dripping from a leak in the levy of pie crust. Those hipsters, with their ironic facial hair, intentional disarray of personal emsemble and poignant use of props (guitar, cigarettes hanging from lips, archaic novel), were a part of the scene of the cloudy May day that reminded me that I am living the life.

Sure, I'm in a perpetual state of singlehood, I feel a bit lost at sea in my writing at the moment and call either one of my parents (typically my mom) on a bi-weekly basis to cry about my woes. But god, this is the life. One made up of caramelized onions and braised radishes, my first purchase from 2011's farmer's markets. There's something so simple and soothing about vegetables, root vegetables in particular. They're a bit ugly, hidden from sight for so long during gestation. A bit of cooking with water and butter, salt, pepper and sugar, and the radish's bitterness was gone. Reducing the water made a pink glaze more radishy than the softened bulbs themselves. They just reek of the spring earth in the best possible way--light and reddish and undeniable crunch, a portend of the heartier roots to come later. So sweet are the carrots, beets, parsnips, and mysteriously, the potato. It's like the earth's great gift: "See how pretty I am even though I'm so brown." Amid the manure, worms and chemical refuse, the dirt holds us down and gives us sustainence.

I'd like to draw an analogy, but instead I'll just tell you that I solemnly swear to spend moreeffort in enjoying roots in a quiet way.

Braised Radishes:
1 pound radishes
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup water
pinch sugar

Rinse the radishes thoroughly. I soaked them according to Molly Wizenberg's instructions for 20 minutes in water. Melt the butter and heat the water, season with salt and pepper and sugar and bring to a simmer. Add the radishes and simmer covered for 15 to 20 minutes until just softened. Taste the stock and adjust seasonings. Bring to a rolling boil and reduce in volume until the liquid becomes a sauce. Serve sauce over radishes.


Jess said...

mmm, root veggies. there is something about them that makes a person content. they also encourage analogies.

Anonymous said...

Love your posts-so much better than the world herald!