Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hot Summer Ratatouille

 I think there’s a fable in here somewhere, about the guy who finds two eggplants in a plastic bag on the back of the lower shelf in the fridge, just about gone...but not quite.

“Why let those go the waste?” he says, “Last night Hilary brought home a zucchini the size of a football. Something tells me….ratatouille!”

So he downloads a recipe from Epicurius and heads down to the farmers market at noon to pick up some $1 bundles of fresh basil and a few red onions.

There’s a lot of chopping and slicing involved in making ratatouille. It can take hours. Then the eggplant cubes need to be salted and rinsed and drained and dried. The onions and red peppers must be chopped and sautéed. And there’s a nice touch where you add flour and tomato paste to the butter in the pan for a bit—making a roué, I guess—before you proceed with the canned tomatoes and a handful of dried thyme.  

Everything eventually ends up in the slow cooker, and four hours later you have your meal. Just before serving you add a handful of chopped basil and a nice heap of Parmesan cheese.

I’d like to claim that the wine (what wine?) was from the Rhone Valley, and that I was reading the poetry of Mistral or Bertran de Born all afternoon, but in fact the wine was La Patache 2011 with a Medoc appellation (sounds fancy but you can get it at Trader Joe’s for $9.99). 

And while the concoction was simmering I dove into a recent arrival in the mail: a collection of essays by Robert Hass called What Light Can Do.

“Attention, says Simone Weil, is prayer, and form in art is the way attention comes to life.”

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