Intensity. Passion. Adrenaline. This is the life of professional cooking. This is the path I am staring straight down the barrel at. In talking with many Chefs, they hear that I am a gardener and immediately question my sanity. Why on earth would I go from a peaceful world into a world fraught with so much potential chaos? The answer is simple. I have no other choice if I ever want to truly be happy. This is about living life under my own banner of exploration. The minute I step into a kitchen, I feel at home. It is a logical place for me, which is refreshing to my often illogical mind. I have purpose in a kitchen. It’s like a hot shot of espresso straight to my heart. Knives, fire, potentially blood and often that soft finished product at the end, made from things that grew and lived and breathed and ate and flowered and… Ugh! Words.
It’s really the simplest things like a small spoonful of bright orange carrot soup with a garnish of offset chervil leaf is why I want to cook professionally. So much in this world is haphazardly slapped together, and small details that are so poignant are often overlooked. The reward of creating something that makes someone stop and take notice is beyond fulfilling.
When I started my culinary education, I had no idea how far I would want to take it. That was the point of starting school. I just felt burned out, on life, my career and how I was engaging the world. I went into this with a vague notion of wanting to cook professionally but uncertain how that might actually play out. But the transformation in me has been like a wildfire. From indecision to this intense drive to grab at anything that might deepen my understanding of the techniques that I am learning, to knowing full well that nothing is certain but I am on the right path and have developed, as one friend said, “the focus of a laser beam”.
I have become ravenous. Ravenous for change, for taste, for visual stimulation, for adventure. To say I have always been hungry may be misleading, it may make you think only of physical appetite, a need for nourishment. This is something much greater and more profound than I could have hoped for. This is an insatiable hunger that will keep me on a quest for the rest of my days. It’s the nourishment of the soul and never letting my personal fire die out. This is just the beginning of my life.
Let me start with saying, I was once a vegetarian. Hell, I was vegan, macrobiotic and at one point I even tried eating raw. Through all that I came around to the realization that, yes, I love animals, but I really love to eat them too. So eat them I do! I do my best to source meat from people who actually give a damn about the welfare of animals and the way that farming effects our environment. I try to eat outside the 3 main meats (in america at least), of chicken, beef and pork as much as I possibly can. I eat the extra parts and believe wasting, above all, is a sin.
If you’re a vegetarian, great! I really have no problem with you, just keep your politics to your self and we will be just fine. The people I have the most grievances with are the carte blanche meat eaters who squirm at the sight of blood, bones and the organs of animals. Seriously people! Guess what? Nicely wrapped meat with no skin or bones creeps me out. All meat was moving and looking at shit somehow before you bought it. You have lost touch with the natural world if this is how you want it to be. You should just be a vegetarian, so you never have to feel bad about eating living things again. When I met my husband I made it clear, if you can’t eat meat off the bone this isn’t going to last.
I’m not saying everyone needs to run out and kill their own meat, although I think it would be beneficial for the human race to actually connect with their food on a more real level, I just wish people could be more accountable for the impact they have in this world. Especially on our furry, feathered and scaled friends who can’t speak up. So next time you see that whole fish with the head on, on a menu, don’t be a wimp, look your meal in the face and thank it for nourishing you.
So all that being said lets take a look at what I picked up at The Local Butcher in Berkeley California yesterday:
Head and feet still intact! Had to pose her, couldn’t help myself. Seductive chicken.
So, for those that know me, you know black is where it is at for me. For those that don’t know me, consider yourself educated on such matters. Recently I have been obsessed with the idea of developing an all black dish, which has spiraled into an all black menu. So of course, squid ink has to be involved! Also what better way to start this bloggy thing than with a black dish. Oh, maybe you were expecting bone marrow? Don’t worry, that will be coming soon. Mmmm, marrow.
So, locating squid ink is fairly easy, you just need a good fish monger. I happen to love Monterey Fish Market in Berkeley and they are getting pretty used to me popping in and antagonizing them. I was able to procure cuttle fish ink, which is essentially the same thing, from these masters of aquatic delights, for a fair price. While I was there I also had to pick up a few lobsters, cause well, I just had too.
So cuttle fish ink tagliatelle was my project for dinner and I must say, what a fun way to spend the afternoon. Making pasta is like taking a trip back to childhood, play doh factory anyone?
Yep, thats a blue egg. Isn’t she lovely?
Oh yes, black.
a great stress reliever, working the dough.
ribbons of love
I served it with these guys all roasted with butter and garlic chives, simple and delicious.