Friday, July 11, 2008

Remy Returns

Some of my friends back in Michigan nicknamed me "Remy" after the mouse in Ratatouille. My method of cooking, when I get really into it, highly resembles that of the little rat. Here in Korea, my cooking skills have been shelved, since it is so much easier (and cheaper, and quicker) just to buy things and heat them up. Also, I eat out a lot more than I used to, since eating out is actually cheaper than buying groceries here.

Tonight, however, was just like old times. When I lived alone in Virginia and North Carolina, I used to love buying random fresh ingredients and experimenting. It was in Virginia that I taught myself, sans recipes, to create stews and gourmet pizza (both of which I later perfected while living with my parents in Michigan). It was in North Carolina that I made my first souffle (also without a recipe). I love the feeling of being truly in tune with the ingredients, and, by instinct, knowing what will blend together best.

I didn't realize how much I missed this way of cooking until last night, when I saw some crab at the grocery store and felt that old, familiar urge to experiment coming upon me again. So, tonight I created a culinary masterpiece. Sorry if that sounds conceited, but I am really proud of tonight's creation. It involved shrimp, crab, penne pasta, mozzarella, feta, mushrooms, fresh garlic, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and various spices. In short, it was heavenly. The only thing it lacked was spinach. Maybe next time...

Of course, the sad part is that this delicious dish can only be eaten once. I never measure when I'm creating, nor do I write things down. I guess that's silly, since I have forgotten how I made some of my best creations, but when the muse strikes, it's too distracting to grab a pen or a measuring cup. So, even if I duplicate the ingredients, I'll never get the measurements exactly the same. Thus, the dish will always come out slightly differently. That's the way it always is when I create something in the kitchen - the exact same creation can never be had twice. In a way, that makes it a little more special for me. Each of my culinary concoctions is a unique, one-time-only dining experience.

You know, maybe I am turning into further evidence that people who live alone eventually become odd (or start out that way)!

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"