Jumping over the lazy dog

or, taking the bull by the horns.

I <3 food.

That shouldn’t be too surprising to those of you that know me.  One of my earliest baby pictures is of me, arms out, stretching to grab the piece of birthday cake my mom is holding right out of reach.  I’ve been known to drop quite some cash on a nice meal, and many of my memorable travel experiences revolve around the meals I ate and the people I ate them with (asparagus and scallop soup in the Jordaan district, roasted duck in a bistro on the Seine, half-lobster and champagne on the Mediterranean, to name a few).

What is newsworthy, however, is that now I’m <3-ing cooking, as well.  If you knew me well enough to know just how much I love food, then you also know just how little I actually know about food preparation.  Well, that’s starting to change.  This summer I’ve been discovering the pleasures of cooking a three course meal, of baking cookies from scratch, of making up simple dishes as I go along.

What’s at the root of this new path of discovery? A couple of things.

  1. I rediscovered Anthony Bourdain.  He’s an incredible writer, and if anyone can convince me that cooking and eating food is a pleasure as close to sex as you can get, it’s him.  When I read an excerpt from his book, Kitchen Confidential, in which he described the orgasmic pleasure of eating an oyster, I had found my culinary-literary soulmate.  I remember my first taste of oyster: raw, chilled on a bed of crushed ice, drizzled with lemon juice, scooped out of the shell with a small silver fork, placed on a salted cracker and topped with a dash of horseradish sauce.  Delicious!
  2. I’m living by myself.  Well, sort of. I’m in my parents’ house, so dinner is covered, but lunches are all up to me – and Lean Cuisine packets only get you so far before you start craving a real meal for lunch!
  3. Transatlantic dating.  My beau is currently to be found across the pond and, in what my friends describe as a sickeningly sweet tradition, we “dunch” together. That is, we plan, prepare and consume a meal, supplemented with some wine and conversation, via Skype. Go ahead, gag.  I like it. And it’s making me a better cook, so there.

So far, I can catalog five experiments, with a handful of little exercises (i.e. helping my mom with dinner) along the way. I’ve made chocolate chip, pecan, and coconut cookies from scratch, made tuna and salmon sushi, a delicious coconut-honey glazed salmon dinner, a three-course Indian meal and invented my very own grilled tuna with mango salsa over pasta dish.  Any suggestions for my next go around?

Chocolate chip, pecan and coconut cookies.

Chocolate chip, pecan and coconut cookies.

Seasoned and grilled tuna with mango salsa over mini pasta shells.

Seasoned and grilled tuna with mango salsa over mini pasta shells.

Tandoori chicken, "jumping" potatoes and mixed salad

Tandoori chicken, "jumping" potatoes and mixed salad.

Chocolate gulab jambun with vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate gulab jambun with vanilla ice cream.

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