As a kid mostly deprived of television (we were limited to Dan Rather’s nightly news, the occasional Saturday morning cartoons, and a few stolen moments of the Cosby show), it’s not surprising that I developed an energetic imagination. Mostly, this served me well. I could effortlessly transform our backyard bushes, trees and brambles into a walled city with cottages, castles, and dungeons and then into a windswept seacoast with shipwrecks, lighthouses, and mermaid- and shark-infested waters. Of course, I had no problem creating handsome princes and rogue (but good-hearted) pirates out of nothing.
Alas, that same imagination kept me awake at night, playing terrifying tricks in my creaky, attic-adjacent bedroom. (I swear I could actually see the closet doors slowly creeping open, and slim, green, sharp-nailed fingers slipping out.)
I guess I thought my imagination would go away, or fade, as I got older. But it remains lively as ever—though perhaps put to somewhat different use. My vivid ideas and mental pictures are now almost exclusively devoted to food. Every meal I cook begins in my head—even the utilitarian weeknight ones. Usually, I have to close my eyes and block out real-world stimuli, so I can focus on seeing, smelling, and tasting each ingredient as it goes into my imminent dish. Mixing, adding, discarding, and taking chances while the ingredients are still just pretend (and free!). I have a mind’s eye, but I also seem to have a mind’s nose and mouth, too.
This week, Tony and I were cooking for his family, and his Dad brought home the most beautiful rack of goat (when it rains, it pours, huh?). I wanted to meet the strongly flavored goat with an equally potent rub and a smoky turn on the grill. So, we rubbed it down with curry, cumin, cayenne, and garlic. Then I started to build out the side dishes in my head—I wanted to stay in the West Asian family of spices, and we had cabbage, summer squash, and tomatoes. After some deliberation, we decided on a slaw with citrus, cumin, and cilanatro, and a side of Israeli couscous with grilled summer squash, fresh tomatoes, garam masala and tumeric.
The goat was the unfortunate victim of a gas grill flare-up. But who doesn’t love a good bit of char on the outside of rare meat? The Israeli couscous and the slaw were quite good, and I can imagine they would have paired nicely with the rub—had we been able to taste it.
We ended the night with another surprise from Tony’s Dad: Goat cheese ice cream with roasted red cherries from Columbus’ famous Jeni’s Ice Cream. And that, my friends, was beyond the realm of even this imagination. (FYI They ship across the country.)
Two things, Sharon.
As you know, David and I just got back late last night from a fun weekend in Columbus, OH with you, Tony, and Tony’s parents.
Before we left Columbus, David stopped at North Market for a lovely selection of nibbles for our 7 1/2 hour car ride home back to PA which we blew through early on. Now what?
GPS said we were due home at 10:30 pm, but we really didn’t want to stop for a fast food dinner. Plus I knew the Spiced Israeli Couscous with Grilled Vegetables, Chickpeas, and Cilantro was in the fridge just begging to be eaten. We held out and enjoyed your lovely salad with a nice glass of Pinot Noir before heading for bed–sooo worth the wait.
Between the Jeni’s ice cream tasting at G Michaels and our pilgrimage to Jeni’s on Saturday, I got many tastes of her ice cream. My favorite, however was that Goat Cheese Ice Cream with Roasted Red Cherries. In the words of Cold Stone–Gotta Have It. Seriously you’ve gotta develop a recipe for it.
You brought up some good memories, Sharon. Of us playing together when we were young. My childhood imagination has also translated into being imaginative in the kitchen as an adult, just not quite as much as you. You’re more adventurous than me.
That Spiced Israeli Cous Cous is so good I brought it with me on the bus and ate it out of a ziploc back with a plastic spoon. And made a small mess. But I could not leave it at home. I love Andy, but not that much 😉
Kim @ Two Good Cookies says
There’s nothing worse than a big, delicious piece of meat goes south. The couscous looks amazing. Yum.
Torrie @ a place to share... says
You are providing me with a lovely reminder of why we are raising the children the way we are, with limited ‘electronics.’
If my daughter’s (or son’s) imagination flourishes into adulthood (and even better- into the kitchen!!), I’ll be one happy empty-nester:).