Tonight the temperature is forecast to drop 20 degrees. This means it’s that sad time of year when the tropical plants have to come in from the balcony. Our view from the bedroom becomes bereft of life and once inside the plants struggle to adjust to light behind the windowpane. At first they go into shock, then revive and struggle on gamely through the winter shedding leaves, until the end of January when the heating system and dry air reduce them to bare twigs. I know I should just bite the bullet, toss them out, and accept this as the price of city dwelling. But being "the patron saint of lost causes" every year I try to keep them going, subjecting them to a slow death.
On the more positive side, this is also the time of year when it becomes cool enough to turn on the oven. We are the kind of tired professional couple who, despite living in the most exciting city in the world, most frequently reply to the question “what are you doing friday evening?” with the stock answer “Laundry”. But for some years now we’ve tried to introduce culinary adventures while the sheets tumble. The dogs are very excited by this. Any whiff of Sunday roast and they are glued to the base of the stove.
This year the long-suffering husband decided that he would like to reach down to his maternal Monticello roots and pull off a few Italian dishes. So, on his birthday, I signed him up for a series of cooking classes at the aptly located Hell's Kitchen branch of Sur la Table.
Personally, I have never felt the need for kitchen gadgetry and happily complete most kitchen tasks with the bread knife. From my perspective one knife is as good as another - I don’t care - as long as the handle is red. But for the long-suffering husband it is a different matter. In his view, “culinary gear maketh the chef.”
It all started with the "Knife Skills" class. He arrived home with three new fangled, lethal-looking Japanese sushi knives. Since then, every evening he’s dons his chefs apron, assumes a samurai warrior persona and smites the vegetables left and right julienning them into matchsticks regardless of whether the recipe needs it or not. It seems I am married to a veritable Edward Scissorhands - but why should I complain when I haven’t had to peel a carrot in months.
Then came the "Risotto" class. In he burst with a bag full of gourmet goods – Italian Arboreo rice, Australian Murray River Pink Sea Salt, a special type of fungi, truffle oil and of course a set of very large wooden stirring spoons. He proceeded to chop and stir, boil and bubble, using every pan and dish in the kitchen. But, in the end, it was well worth all the mess. The risotto was divine!
His desire for professional implements, however, got seriously out of hand following the "Artisan Pizza" class. We have a classic NYC galley kitchen – the kind where swinging a cat would be completely impossible, in fact you have to step to one side just to open the oven door. Undeterred by this fact, in he waltzed with one of those 4 ft long pizza shovels they use in commercial bakeries to slide the pies in and out of brick ovens. For want of a better place it’s now hanging on the bathroom door with the ironing board.
But I decided to let it go. We each have our illogical desires. Our marriage works in part because, for example, I know when his heart is set on a four season tent - we are talking here about the kind Scott would take to the antarctic, and he in turn, encourages me to pick a Bertazzoni cooker, knowing full well it has nothing to do with its BTUs but because its bright red.