Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Food on the Brain

Why is it that when someone sends an e-mail to me with a mere mention of food - even if it is only in reference to a meal (i.e., "Hey, Sarah, what do you want to have for dinner tonight?") I can't seem to get my mind off of thinking about food of all kinds?  I LOVE to eat - I mean seriously, I think I might have a problem.  I get giddy thinking about eating a warm bowl of chilli, or a hot fudge brownie sundae.  But I'm picky also.  I only love food that's worth the calories.  So that hot fudge brownie sundae has to have a chewy, not cake-like, brownie, it has to be topped with vanilla ice cream of a superior quality (no store brand ice cream for this palette, thank you!), and it has to have real hot fudge, hershey's syrup will not do!  To really get me drooling, the brownie should be slightly warm and should not have anything inside other than warm chocolatey goodness. 

One of my pet peeves with simple desserts, like a brownie, is that people are always trying to make them more interesting - topping them with cream cheese, stirring chocolate chips or nuts into the batter, swirling peanut butter through them, etc.  When made right, brownies do not need anything extra.  And it doesn't take much to make them right, store bought boxed brownie mix usually delivers a pretty decent brownie, no additions necessary.  So why do we insist on complicating things?  It's no wonder we're never satisfied...we've become so used to what "type" of brownie we're eating that we forget that the brownie, in all it's naked glory, is something decidedly decadent all by itself.

Anyway, it just so happens that one of my sisters mentioned a cake in an e-mail between me, my mom, and my sisters today, and it now has all of us talking about how much we want cake, how much cake we've eaten today, and what kind of cake we're going to have for another sister's birthday in August (you're not crazy, it is November, and, yes, we're planning cake for August).  That's how we roll.  Food is our thing.  We go out of our way to center parties, holidays, special events, EVERYTHING around food.  When we all get together to spend a day at the beach, one of the first things we do is divvy up who's bringing what food.  Heaven forbid we go down the shore without a cooler fully stocked with tunafish, crackers, fresh fruit, pb&j's, and cookies.  It's like we wouldn't survive without these summer day essentials.

When I first met Greg and we started taking our own trips down the shore, I would go into panic mode the night before our trip, trying to decide what we had available in our apartment to make a suitable beach day lunch.  Greg thought I was nuts, and seemed perfectly content to partake of whatever the local concession stand had to offer.  I felt it was my duty to train him how to properly prepare a beach day feast that's totable and tasty, preventing the need to stand in line for greasy food while listening to all the whiny kids ask their parents for ice cream cones.  After five years or so, I think I have him convinced.

Anyway, I guess food is an essential part of life, and we need it in order to survive.  I just wonder why it often becomes such an all thought consuming necessity.  After all, air and water are also essential for life, and I don't find myself daydreaming about breathing or drinking.  Food is just on a whole different level for me.  Maybe it's because there is just so much variety, and great food is somewhat of an art that most people, with practice, can master.  I emphasize practice because I once made a fettuccini alfredo that I wouldn't serve to my worst enemies.  The pasta itself was the problem - it was all stuck together and half cooked so you'd bite into overly mushy parts that had rock solid centers.  It was a disaster...one that my sisters have a hard time letting me forget.  But, when I started living on my own, and was required to cook for myself on a somewhat regular basis, I actually discovered that I have the ability to be a decent cook.  I still mess up, but a good percentage of things I try in the kitchen turn out to be pretty tasty.  Like the meatloaf roll that I made last week, and the escarole, sundried tomato, and cannellini bean dinner I made last night, which I based off of one of my favorite dishes from a local restaurant.  Funny enough, I can't remember the last time I even tried to make fettuccini.  Maybe part of being a successful cook is knowing your limitations.  :)

Now I'm craving a brownie.

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