Monday, December 12, 2011

Adventures in Czech Cookery (Part 3)

Okay, so I didn't lable part's one and two, but I think you can figure them out. The mom-in-law came home early with an intense eye ache, but insisted that she'd brought a chunk of meat out of the freezer with the intent to continue my education, and therefore, It just had to be done.

I must admit I'm getting a bit worried about the wordiness of my blogs. They miss the pictures I'd love to insert, but iPad and photos continue to refuse to work together with blog. So. I regret to inform that the picture of my beef with onions in sauce (my own name for it) will just have to wait.

I brought only two books with me to Czech this trip. It's week two, and I'm already half way through with the second. Oops. At least I have a few downloaded on my iPad. I imagine War and Peace will take me a while. (The beauty of free classics!) Anyhow, the book I'm devouring at the moment is Julie and Julia. I saw the movie with my mom and sisters (Jessie included) a couple years ago, and really enjoyed it. I have to say this might be one of those times when the movie outdoes the book. I know, those cases are few and far between, but style, while entertaining, isn't exactly friendly for all audiences the way the movie was. Regardless, it seems a fitting book to read while taking my own stab at culinary something or another. After reading the chapter about her murdering lobsters, it seemed only appropriate that I should have to touch raw meat.

Today's process started out with mom-in-law chopping a chunk of partially frozen raw beef into chunks, then having me pound them with a pokey metal mallet. That done, she began the frying in oil bit, whilst giving me the task of peeling onions. Now, in general I'm a pretty fast person. Maybe not always as fast on the uptake as I'd like to be, but I do things quickly. I walk fast. I clean fast. I write five to ten page papers fast. It's how I roll... Until I find myself in the kitchen. Then langour is probably a better word for it. Mostly because it sounds like a mixture of being really slow and a little horrified, and maybe kind of bored too because I know it's all going to take so long and that I'm going to end up looking inept in the process. I have peeled my fair share of onions, back in the Great Harvest days when I made Curry chicken salads, and fresh slices for sandwiches it was part of my daily routine. Always healthy to have a good cry in the morning, right? But it seems like everyone has a method, and hers involved being faster and less frightened of knives than mine. Likewise, everyone has their own way of chopping onions, and so I did my best to follow hers, but I'm sure that if given the task on my own, I'd probably do it differently. Either way the meat got it's sear and the onions got in to become brown and translucent and things were well underway.

The funny thing about people who know how to cook in general, is that they think it's easy. Okay, maybe it's not rocket science, but easy? That's a bit of a stretch. Yeah, I know following a menu is about reading. I can do reading. And I know that prepping ingredients is so basic that kids can do it. Well, I can do it too. It's not so much all of that part that is the issue really. It's knowing how to know that it's done, and having it turn out like it does in the pretty picture books.

In the book I'm reading, Julie had that problem too. Julia Child would talk about everything like it was a mixture of ease and a thrill. When attempted in real life, however, it was often a disaster. Because how is a person just supposed to know or feel when it's exactly the right moment between perfection and granulated, or charred, or straight up mush? Now imagine trying to figure all that out when someone is speaking a language you don't really know all that well.

Each time "easy" and "finished" were spoken with glee, I knew that when it came my time to cook it on my own it would be more like: Now build the great wall of China in thirty minutes and when you're done it will look like the Eiffel Tower decorated in twinkly lights for Christmas. Just gonna have to wait and see how it goes I guess.


Unknown said...

Don't be discouraged. Cooking and throwing things together and having them taste good gets easier after many years of practice. Keep up the good work, sis.

Anonymous said...

Hahahahaha! I do understand how easy can be an understatement but you can do it. The China wall, Eiffel(SP) tower and Christmas lights were very funny.
Love you!!