Never underestimate the importance of a go-to dish. This should be one that is easy, good for you and can be made in under 45 minutes. For me, this is herb crusted salmon. Most Mondays, this is what I make. After working past six then hitting the gym, the last thing I want to do is “potchka” (grandma word for “futzing around” (grandpa word)) in the kitchen. I come home with my bags of food, cut up the herbs and vegetables, make a sauce, either out of mustard and egg or by processing hot red or yellow peppers until they become a sauce. I gently spread it all over a beautiful pound of fish then pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for thirty five minutes. During that time, I boil water for whatever sort of starch I choose for the side-dish and then I hop in the shower and pray that the place doesn’t blow up while I’m in there. There is something special about this moment in my day. While all this is in motion I wash away the frustrations of the day that dent my highly-guarded sense contentment. I also cultivate a sense of immediate accomplishment knowing that I will have created a meal by the time I get out.
How to translate the reactions of the nose and tongue upon getting out of the shower and opening the door to the smells of dinner is a more daunting challenge than the cooking itself. Its impact, its glory, is sensory rather than cerebral. It feels like hearing your favorite song from the ’90s that you know you have on a CD somewhere and have access to at anytime, but never bothered to pull it out. It reminds you of who you are in some way. After that brief moment, however, I play with the knobs on the oven and stove, adjusting the temperatures, get dressed, check email and then finally sit down to eat…and likely drink.
I cannot stake out new territory every time I come into the kitchen, though I would love to. Some evenings I can only hope to excavate new meaning from classic dishes, carve out new ways of presenting them and breathe my own fire into them.
Cooking, no matter what it is, according to National Geographic, is part of what makes us human: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/10/121026-human-cooking-evolution-raw-food-health-science/