I have reached the point where I’ve cooked 10% of Marcella Hazan’s ‘The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking’. I feel the need to celebrate! I also feel the need to battle the doubts of ever reaching the end.
I will battle those doubts!
In one sense it doesn’t matter one iota (or two hoots) if I ever finish the book. In another sense, I recall how simple and successful the recipes have been (all but the Praline!). I recall how they were never burdensome. The ingredients have been few, fresh and uncomplicated. I also recall the joy it has given me to watch the dishes evolve as I follow Marcella’s careful instructions. These recollections give me hope to continue.
A couple of nights ago, I had four friends over for dinner. I used the last of a friend’s gift of a large bag of porcini mushrooms to create ‘Braised Pork Chops with Tomato, Cream and Porcini Mushrooms’. The amount of cream was so small – and yet the combined flavour of the few ingredients created a sauce that had one guest confessing they would rather like to lick their plate.
I had come from a meeting that day where kind and patient colleagues had sought to solve issues I was facing. There weren’t any obvious solutions – except prayer and the comfort of burdens shared. I was then able to come home, tired, to be further comforted by the way that a meal can come together so well and so easily.
The comfort continued around my table with friends to share food and life with.
Last night, I sat with two other friends facing sickness themselves and in the lives of their loved ones. I had seen whole chickens half price that day and felt it was the perfect solution to hearts made tired by illness.
It was so simple and so suited to the task. We thanked God for the comfort of chicken!
I will continue to battle with the doubts and also celebrate the milestone in this cooking project. There are further celebrations to come later this week – where I will attempt one of Marcella’s menu suggestions for a friend’s 40th Birthday Celebration!
This past week: #45 ‘Braised Pork Chops with Tomato, Cream and Porcini Mushrooms, #46 ‘Baked Potatoes, Onion and Tomatoes, Apulian Style, and #47 ‘Fricasseed Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon Juice’ with a whole load of comfort at my table.