mercredi 25 novembre 2009

Gluttony and Sloth scheduling nightmare



Otto Dix - les sept péchés capitaux

I like Dante Alighieri's version of the seven capital sins, from The Divine Comedy:

1.luxuria (extravagance)
2.gula (gluttony)
3.avaritia (avarice/greed)
4.acedia (acedia/discouragement)
5.ira (wrath)
6.invidia (envy)
7.superbia (pride)

Nowadays, we talk about lust instead of luxuria or extravagance, and sloth instead of acedia.

The seven deadly sins are inter-related and form a nice little vicious circle once you get going. But has anyone ever noticed the particularly tight relationship between gluttony and sloth? I always notice it at this time of year. This week is the kick-off for an onslaught of gluttony and sloth that will culminate, as in years past, on December 31, with a wicked hangover for many and a set of resolutions. Burp!

Let's talk about the traditionally heaving table laden with Thanksgiving food. It is a starch fest. Stuffing AND mashed potatoes AND dinner rolls AND pie crust, just in case you were worried about getting enough slow-burning carbs. The Thanksgiving meal is not one of my favorites by a long shot. I don't really like turkey much (but boy do I love a good capon or goose), unless it is smoked, in which case it is tolerable.

The stuffing thing has always bothered me too. I don't like croutons either. It all tastes like stove-top stuffing to me. Except for one recipe, which calls for dried apricots and grand marnier. I used to make that one alot when I lived in France. Speaking of, I much prefer a good French farce, which tends to be heavier on minced veggies, meats and fines herbes and generally devoid of bread. Once I made a turkey with truffes, which I sliced real thin and placed under the skin. The truffe cost about a million dollars and came in a tiny jar. I felt like I had the crown jewels, or one of them, in my grocery bag.

Inevitably, after eating a meal like this, all you really want to do is unbutton your pants (some people wear sweats with an elastic waistband so they don't even have to spend a hard-earned calorie on the task of unbuttoning) and lie on the sofa. Some people fall asleep right away; others say the triptophane in the turkey keeps them awake. Some say it puts them to sleep. I say that all of them are in thrall to a kind of temporary diabetic coma or near coma.

Sometimes gluttony and sloth feel good. It is nice on occasion to eat too much and then sit around digesting. I would just choose different food, for the most part. For example, roast duck. I made a great one last weekend. It was moist and flavorful. I put an apple in the cavity, along with salt and pepper. The secret is in scoring the duck so that it renders all that nice duck fat during the roasting process. We made a gratin de pommes de terre (also known as pommes dauphinoises)and spicy sautéed greens (chard, kale and mustard greens). As an appetizer, we roasted some figs and served them with a balsamic reduction, marcona almonds, parmesan cheese and good bread from Bakery Nouveau. Thanks for the idea, Tom Douglas. I think the tastiest dish was the carmelized shallots. I just sauté the shallots in a little unsalted butter and then add some brown sugar and some apple cider vinigar. Don't ask for proportions. Anyone who has ever cooked with me knows that I don't generally measure anything. This may be why I don't make desserts. We skipped the salad (it would have been arugula, pears, dried cranberries and gorgonzola) and moved directly on to dessert. Naturally, it was pumpkin pie. I am not a fan of PP and never have been. But this one was good. I have just never understood the appeal. I would rather eat pumpkin soup.

After this delicious meal, we went for a ten-mile walk on the beach. Did you believe me, even for a second? Actually, we played a very rousing game of Scrabble. There were winners and losers, tears were shed, challenges were issued, names were called. And someone really regrets challenging me on the word "ecu". (Don't you, someone?) Dahli brought her Scrabble dictionary, which is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. I always make fun of it. But it did contain the word ecu, so I was happy to have it on the table.

I am thankful for many things, and thankful for them every day. Being alive is something to be thankful for. Having work is another. Having friends is another. Having animals is a source of unending joy. Having love is the best damn thing of all.

I am thankful for duck fat, which is the upside of having duck.
I am not sure about duck farts, which are definitely on the downside. And you don't want to be downwind from someone who is processing them.