Monday, September 7, 2009

Family Dinner (Sans Family); A Reflection Regarding Homemade Condiments

family dinner for one: cuisinart caesar, baked beans,
bbq chicken lollipops & soda biscuits with mom's vanilla bean fig jam

After a long, hard day of selling high end leather goods to colorful Canadian tourists, the item at the forefront of this tired shop girl's mind was... barbecue sauce. A package of organic chicken drumettes had waited long enough to meet their inevitable maker. I had spent the day in a hazy daydream of overflowing soup pots cradling the delicious blend of caramelized onions, molasses and aromatic spices that would soon be smothering those tender legs.

The gathered research on barbecue sauces led me to the creation of the following concoction: onions and garlic caramelized in balsamic & brown sugar, tomato paste browned with a mix of spices (I chose cumin, coriander, chili powder, mustard powder, red chili flakes, black pepper, sea salt, and the piece de resistance... cocoa powder!), and a final addition of Worcestershire, molasses, cider vinegar & tomato sauce. You can imagine my excitement as I added ingredient after ingredient to the pot and it actually started to smell like barbecue sauce. Sweet, sweet, sultry bbq.

It dawned on me what a powerful, delightful, and incredibly intimate gesture the act of creating one's own condiments can be. Earlier this week my beautiful mother had sent me home with a bell jar of her homemade, picked-from-the-garden vanilla bean fig jam. If heaven were to have a taste, this, I'm quite positive, would be it. The more I eat the more it becomes apparent that what makes eating an action, an activity... an event, rather than the fulfillment of a survival instinct, are those times when you're given the opportunity to connect with your food on an emotional level. I relish that tender moment of exchange between some piece of hand made sustenance and the delighted hand that accepts it. Such joy comes from such simplicity.

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