Monday, 28 December 2009

Capsaicin: the fire every time...

'A great meal fades in reflection. Everything else gains. You know why? 'Cause it's only food...' Thus pontificates Richard Roma, philosophically-minded top-dog salesman in David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, a play that I once (rather haphazardly) co-directed while at college. Roma says so as part of a spiel to trap a prospective customer (in a Chinese restaurant...), so I don't know if he means it; but I do agree with him.
This Christmas I have enjoyed some exceptionally fine cooking courtesy of my Darling Wife's family. I even did some OK cooking myself - a braised rolled shoulder of lamb for nine people, weekend before last. In the act of food preparation I can see the point of any number of rigours, whether it's the honey and mustard for the parsnips or the goose fat/parboiling/shaking of the potatoes, or precisely what wine you use to break down the sinews of the meat while steeping in the pot. And this is only to speak of the strictly humdrum middle ground of cookery cares. If it's got right, the taste is the vouchsafe and validation. But on the whole I'm still with Roma, on the grounds that lesser cares can in theory lead to even happier results.
To whit, what little cooking I've done in the months since mine became a four-person household has been heavily 'influenced' by green chillies. I'm not proud, but I am a happy eater. God bless capsaicin, salve for the soul, (possible) reliever of umpteen ailments! I understand the stuff is addictive, but then so is cocaine, and as far as I've heard it that stuff never did no good for nobody, even as it siphoned all the money from their purses.
Tonight, pressed for time, we ordered in pizza and wine, the provider being the excellent Lupa, and my thin-crust pie loaded with fiery red chillies and shaved grana padano was, for me, the definition of culinary heaven - setting aside, just for the moment, certain curry houses dear to me, and the one London fish ship I know where the chips are still done in beef dripping... Cf. Roma, of course, even these simple/glorious meals fade in reflection too. But you can have a lot more of them in this life, for less expense of time and bother; and who thought happiness could be so cheaply bought, if not pursued in anything like moderation?