October 11, 2006
Introducing the Laughing Chef
Baerren had a problem one night. He was hungry, but had only an hour to
cook and eat
There was a defrosted chicken leg. There were tomatoes, onions and
peppers fresh from his garden. There was steamed summer squash in the
refrigerator, leftovers from a weekend meal. There was a bag of egg
noodles, newly arrived from the grocery store.
All of it
was crying out to find a new home inside his stomach.
question was how could he combine them into a meal and return to work.
A search of
his cookbooks turned up nothing useful. A search of the Internet
produced only recipes that took too long to cook, or required an exotic,
expensive sounding ingredient. It began to look more and more like a
delivered sandwich and bag of chips would be his dinner.
turned to inspiration. Previously the kind of guy who’d stick to the
letter of recipes and who would find pleasure in recreating the art of
others, he instead tapped into his own creative vein. In that moment
when things looked darkest, he cast off the yoke of literalism, embraced
everything he’d learned from years in the kitchen and pulled out a
the onion and hot pepper, and began to slowly sauté them in olive oil
and garlic. He separated the drumstick from thigh, sliced the thigh in
half and browned them while he cut the tomatoes into large chunks.
added the tomatoes and squash, a dash of oregano, a dash of thyme, and
covered and simmered it all while he boiled water for the noodles.
Ten or so
minutes later, he crowned the noodles with a thick stew that clung to
the noodles, and pronounced it delicious.
But, it was
more than a meal. It was a personal revelation that eating well doesn’t
require hours of research and preparation, nor heavy investments in
ingredients and equipment. It also revealed that eating well is just
something for the weekend. You can, he realized, just make it up as you
he has embraced an on-the-fly style of cooking. It usually starts with
two ingredients and an idea – how can I pair this and that together with
what is in the kitchen. There are but two rules – it must be simple, it
must be tasty.
must follow a familiar concept – a meal isn’t just a destination, it’s
the sum of its ingredients. Each ingredient must be appreciated as part
of the bigger recipe.
It is with
this philosophy in mind that Eric tackles each week a new meal,
consisting solely of the thoughts in his head and the stuff in his
kitchen. Although his imagination is boundless, his kitchen isn’t. Most
of the things you can find there, you can probably find in your own
to pasta, from chicken to rice, from bacon to squash, he’ll explore and
celebrate the simple pleasure of a well-made meal.
© 2006 North Star Writers
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