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Diggin’ In

It’s about time.

I mean, I’ve had my own place for over a month now—kitchen just sitting there quietly. Patiently waiting.Two things drove me to my madness.

1) May. The person, not the month. She’s really great at gently and not-so-gently teasing to encourage positive behavior. In this case, she teased me at the last couple meetings when I brought drinks or fruit. I figured it was OK since I was a guy, but the guys who have come before me ruined things by being kitchen wizards. Since there are a number of them that cook, the girls can skate in with pre-made stuff and nobody notices. But we guys are rather the minority. And the vets had been cooking, so the bar was set.Allow me to hesitatingly question the sanity of these guys. I mean, I’m all for cooking and that, but when the girl:guy ratio is hovering somewhere around four to one, why divulge your culinary prowess? Keep it to yourself; let the kind ladies take care of you. They like it, you like it—everyone’s happy. Start cooking and people start expecting it. I’m just sayin’.

2) My olive oil. I was about to cook. I could feel a rubbing deep within me that gradually produced heat. It was going to spark; I just didn’t know when. So I thought I’d fuel it. On a trip to Walmart, I purchased a bottle of olive oil and a fruit bowl. I was ashamed every time I went into my kitchen. My empty fruit bowl sighed quietly for purpose. The olive oil teased the cultured man buried deep within me. The fruit bowl was filled within 48 hours (and subsequently emptied even more quickly). The olive oil took about a week to work its magic.

So, the gauntlet was thrown at last week’s SF. The theme this week would be Mexican. I surreptitiously picked up said gauntlet and ran to the computer.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I’m in China. And they don’t really sell the ingredients necessary for most Mexican dishes. But after a dogged browse, I found what I was looking for—a simple Mexican recipe that used fairly common ingredients. Including salsa.

Now I can buy salsa here at an import store, but buying it would have been about as cost effective as having some shipped via two-day mail from home. So it was back to the recipes. Soon I was staring down a salsa recipe whose main ingredients were right around the corner from me. Sparks were flying.

One trip to the store later, and those sparks were a legitimate flame of interest. I wandered around the store continually re-shocked to find everything I needed. Even fresh cilantro, limes, and chicken bullion with English packaging. I came home, cleaned my produce, and made salsa. I even added ingredients and made up my own steps to make it more the way I thought it should be.

Driven by my initial signs of success, I stocked my kitchen and pressed on. The flames had blown up into a raging inferno. I not only made my chicken tortilla soup, but made up a marinade and made my own dinner for the first time since getting here. I even had cilantro garnish.

So, no, I’m not an accomplished chef. Considering similar historical trends, that fire is probably going to burn itself down into some smoldering coals in a little while. But I’ve cooked.

It tasted good.


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3 Comments

Congratulations on cooking ethnically in an ethnical location even if you did mix them. So is mixing cultures like mixing metaphors?

September 20, 2007 (10:16 am)

Um, so I slightly resent the slander raised at those of the feminine gender on our team. I do cook mostly from scratch, and as for your cooking abilities . . . really?

June 20, 2008 (10:11 pm)

@ Marianne: No slander was intended, I assure you. The skating in was hypothetical, not anecdotal. As for cooking skills, I claim nothing. That salsa was pretty dang good. And it’s not reappeared in my kitchen since I finished eating that first batch. Apparently I prophesy better than I cook.

June 22, 2008 (11:54 pm)
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