I complain whenever someone suggests making food, unless I'm fairly certain I can weasel out of doing much work. It always bites you in the ass around cleanup time but you've got to fight through that. I dated a girl who wasn't much of a cook. I dated a girl who was - against all odds - even less of a cook. I dated a girl who loved that shit, and over time she roped me into it. I dated a girl who let me do almost nothing; the contrast was a symptom; the contrast was a catalyst. Now I'm dating someone else again, and we cook together as follows:
- To us it seems great, because we complement one another's styles in the kitchen, and share a certain culinary sensibility. I'm a relaxed person under those circumstances, and because I comport myself like a thirteen-year-old half ape/half child it's always a little unexpected when I bust out any grace, and it's good to keep some grace stored up for just such an occasion. She's efficient and remembers things, and has a deft touch with food when it's more demanding than couscous; she puts a stamp on things when she wants to, but lets me choose the music.
- To an outside observer, basically, we're assholes. We gorge ourselves half the time on boxed couscous and Annie's mac'n'cheese. The calories we consume would fell a horse. I say this lovingly, mind you.
When we do get our act together to make something more complicated than powdered cheese and ready-to-serve pasta, we do quite well for ourselves. My most cooking-addicted XGF had a particular spicing regime of which she was fond, and it lent our kitchen creations either consistency or a certain monotony, depending on how you look at it. Hell, I liked it; but then again I was shacking up with a nice girl, and was too lazy to cook for myself. Plus I'm a philistine when it comes to food. In any case, the current GF - and make no mistake, though the previous post here was also about this girl after a fashion I have no intention of making this a 'Wax gushes about a girl' blog anymore than I intend to make it a 'Celebrate the achievements of the wise and just George W. Bush' blog, capisce? - in any case, she's considerably more flexible on the matter of the spicing regime. Rosemary rarely appears in our recipes, which opens things up a bit. At least relative to the quantities in which it was used previously, viz., enormous quantities. Or so I remember.
[Digression of a sort: I also remember us - me and the XGF in question - arguing constantly for a period of months. This almost certainly did not happen. So my memory is faulty on this matter and should not be trusted. Still when I tell you she fucking liked rosemary, I mean seriously, what are you going to do? Argue with me?]
Tonight we concocted a vegetarian chili from scratch, which isn't hard or impressive. I went out into the scrotum-tightening cold to buy cornbread (on a bike) (is why it was cold) (me, not the cornbread) (was on the bike) (though we had to warm that up too) (no not my scrotum) (though as I said before: brrrr) from Whole Foods, and came back to find the chili immaculately spiced, with nary a molecule of rosemary in sight. Some alarm in her monkey brain had sounded: use cloves in the chili. She responded with alacrity, and so: farewell to the ancien regime! I don't mean to self-horn-toot here, especially since the masterstroke wasn't my work, but that was likely the best veggie chili I've ever had. The cornbread topped it off, and from me and my scrotum a hearty you're welcome.
[Second digression: the word 'vegetarian' in there should probably be underlined in dripping red ink or something. Historically I'm an unrepentant and enthusiastic carnivore, and until now I've had the foresight and you might even say pith to date the same. Hell, I even shacked up for a while with a French Canadian sailor (by way of Maine) (yes a girl, this isn't that kind of blog) who could probably have taken down a moose with her bare hands, had regulations and social custom allowed it. There was never any question, in that particular dyad, about whether meat would be on the menu. She's married now, which makes me feel only slightly old. In any case, dating a vegetarian is...oh for God's sake, this isn't really a digression at this point, so we'll just pop outside the square bracket,]
like so, and yes dating a vegetarian of (to put it diplomatically) loose-limbed eating habits had the expected effect at first (I ate a lot of macaroni and cheese) and then an unexpected but salutary effect indeed: I've been eating goddamn vegetables all of a sudden, and it's good, I like it. When we go out I'll sometimes have meat, and when I'm alone I invariably get my protein jones going, but at home it's all veggies and soy and something called Quorn that can be made to look like chicken or beef but is actually a fungus, which yes, yuck just like you'd think but actually it tastes OK. I'm coming around to a basically veggie life half the time. Or you might say: I'm learning moderation vis-a-vis the meatlings. No longer a beeftard. And other red-hot neologisms. Next step: moderation vis-a-vis, um, bourbon and the Internet. But then how will you get your fix, loyal Reader(s)?
There was to be a bit here about shared enthusiasms and her smile and shit like that, but honestly I'm kind of feeling another digression coming on, a real one I promise and not some faux digression like the last one, for which sorry dudes, and I'll even stick it in the middle of this sentence -
[ - the second verse of Wilco's 'Shot in the Arm' is just about the happiest thing you can imagine, with those silly lyrics, 'We fell in love / in the key of C / Walked along / down by the sea,' and of all things a kettledrum on the pickup to the downbeat after the first line, like remembering the first and best and longest-lasting kiss of your stupid life, you lucky dog, but I've written about this before - ]
- so as not to disrupt things totally. The flow of things I mean. Looks like I dropped the ball on that score though, because there's not a whole lot else to say now that I'm paying attention to the music instead of these words. Veggie chili: good for the soul and to a considerably lesser extent the arteries; and a symptom and a catalyst as well. And there's plenty left over for tomorrow, thank you heaven, and I think I'll take some cornbread to work too, chili cornbread a banana and a dollar for a drink, which sounds just about perfect.
One last thing before all that though. There's a feeling that comes sometimes when I'm writing or playing music, which translates loosely as it all might turn out to be something as long as I keep my head down and my shit together. It's a creative feeling, generative, and it lends momentum to whatever it is I'm/you're doing. Look we've shifted to a kind of ersatz direct address where I'm like, 'you're doing' but I don't know who you are, except that you're my Reader(s) and precious to me. Would that I could make you up in my head and take you with me imagined when I go off to write in a coffee shop or something, but those are Radical Solipsist moments. [Shit, I went digressing without intending to. I'll pull it together right here as best I can, and here we go, back into the point of this last paragraph as soon as we come back from the square brackets, wait for it, wait for it, go.] You get that feeling at the strangest of sometimes. Whether it elevates the mundane into profundity (unbloodylikely) or renders the wannabe-profound merely mundane (yeah), I am here to say this: I experienced that moment of generativity while cooking and eating our veggie chili, and I'm not ashamed to say it. Or rather I am obviously ashamed, but like Camille Paglia I can't help thinking a little shame is good for you, and before this becomes a Radical Solipsist moment I'll stop with the yakking, and good night good health enjoy your leftovers.