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Cooked-Out

What did I do for New Year’s? Y. and I invited a small group of people to our house: Rich & Eli, Ahn & Eachan, Paul & Elaine, Andy, Cliff. Instead of going out to eat, we would all chip in for a meal.

I was the chef.

I had big plans. I had been cooking more as of late and I wanted to out-do everything that I had done before. I told Cliff, I want to bring my cooking to “the next level”. Frankly, I was afraid. I’m quite insecure about my cooking, because I get so involved in it. I feel like the dishes I produce are somehow connected with myself…it’s quite immature. Anyhow, I really wanted to do something special.

So I labored over the menu and came up with this:

Appetizers:
– Deviled eggs stuffed with yolk and avocado filling topped with large prawn
– Asparagas wrapped in prosciutto, roasted
– Seared ahi atop a bed of silky mashed potatoes and a water cracker with dijon mustard dipping sauce
– Smoked salmon on potato blini with creme fraiche

Salad:
– Mixed greens with pears and walnuts tossed in rasberry vinaigrette

Main course:
– Roasted prime rib marinated in a garlic, herb, and red wine sauce
– Parmesan, spinach, and basil tossed linguini

Dessert:
– Flambed pears and walnuts and vanilla in a butter cookie and macadamian nut cup

Drinks:
– Martinelli’s apple cider

I began cooking around 1pm. I did not finish (and not with out help during the last stretch) until about 7:30pm. There was just so much to do. The appetizers were killing me. I had to marinate meat and shrimp. Steam the shrimp. Boil water. Boil potatoes and pasta and eggs. Peel potatoes, and mash them. Do another batch. Make a batter. Sear the ahi. And so on…

Meanwhile, Y. was working like a pro to get the house looking like a party…but this is my blog, not hers…

Normally, I get a rush when I cook. I get “in the zone”. Time feels different when I cook. I’m in another world and other people that try to step in annoy me. It is a strange place to be when I cook. But on that day, I was truly overwhelmed. I was cooking for six and half hours straight. And this after two hours of grocery shopping.

Two points during the day that usually don’t happen:
1. As I was peeling potaotes, I was suddenly struck with the meaninglessness of cooking. Even this won’t last, I heard a voice in my head. I couldn’t tell if that was me or God. But in any case, this sort of thought is very unusual for me. I have a theology that surrounds my love for culinary arts and food.
2. When the night was almost over, I told Rich…I don’t think I can do this again for a long, long time. Again, this is very unusual for me, because I usually feel invigorated after cooking a meal, ready to scale another challenge. None of that this time.

Anyhow, the meal turned out decent…not WOW, but decent. The eggs appetizer didn’t have the right color; the seared ahi dish had too much potatoes and too little ahi; the prosciutto had dried out and gone to room temperature; the pasta wasn’t smooth enough and the prime rib was slightly overcooked and lacked a crispy crust; the dessert was way too buttery. But overall, the taste was good.

All in all, I guess it was decent. Everyone said it was good, but sometimes it’s hard to tell if people are being polite or being genuine, or both.

Anyways, I’m cooked-out.

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