December 17th, 2007

Paging Dr. I. Chef

Posted by natdavauer in Uncategorized

I’m sitting with my niece in the hospital writing this post. To be more accurate, I’m sitting with my sister in whom my niece sits. I figure I’ll try to write something before I become a part-time babysitter and have even less time to do things like write vague essays to no one in particular. My niece is being coaxed out into our cold world by none other than the Iron Chef himself. He seems in quite a hurry to get his dish done by the deadline. We all watch anxiously, empathizing with his efforts. My sister also has something that needs to get done and the deadline is now. The oven is off and the bun is done. It’s just a few short hours before I’ll have one more loyal, related reader.

It won’t be long before the baby realizes she has mad cooking skillz. I’m already looking forward to Thanksgiving twenty odd years from now. That’s going to be good eatin’. So many of our best qualities are are inherited like a chicken breast inherits the flavor of the bay leaf. We stew in our families while young taking on all kinds of flavors. The final dish can be so subtle you don’t know why you do what you do and like what you like, but you know it has something to do with those years in the family crock pot.

The snow came down hard this week. It wasn’t so much the each-one-is-a-unique-individual type as it was the clump-together-and-git-r-done type. It was beautiful nonetheless. Huge globs covered our landing strip of a driveway. No less than eight cars share the tarmac between our house and our neighbor’s. My friends to the south think, “That must have been beautiful. All that snow piled up… just like a painting.” My stout and sturdy colleagues up north think, “You have a snowblower right?”

No, I don’t have a snowblower, but I do have my mitts. Like recognizing a flavor in the Iron Chef’s Porcini Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Red Wine Reduction Sauce, I recognize my grandpa in me while shoveling. It wasn’t so much that he taught me how to work hard when work needed to be done. It was more like I just existed around him and pretty soon it soaked in. He always worked harder than anyone I knew while complaining about working less than anyone I knew. The work wasn’t easy work either. It was backbreaking crack-o-dawn work.

As many people as there are running around the city doing things that make them money to pay the bills, there just isn’t that much hard work being done. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people doing things that are hard and putting in long hours but it’s still not life on the farm. Sometimes, like when the snow piles up on the driveway, I can go back to the farm and life becomes clear for a while. It becomes a simple equation: Hard work/Time=Job Well Done. It’s a chance for me to see my grandpa again. I see him when I come back in and my back is killing me but I know it doesn’t matter. I see him when I wake up and there’s twice as much snow as the day before and I think, “Well, looks like that driveway needs shovelin’ again.” For the next couple hours, I know exactly what life holds.

My niece will be a whole new spin on the family recipe. I’m seeing an intelligent, well traveled, multi-lingual chef with a great smile. Hopefully I can get her out to shovel with me a couple times.

“She’s got some sugar on top and some really nice carmelization” That she does Iron Chef, that she does.