The timid moments pass each year I get older. There’s less time for them. This is the theory, anyway.
That’s the theory I adopt when I go to prepare my meals now. I’ve lived timidly behind the skirt of many woman (mom, aunts, grandma…a couple girlfriends; although, with the girlfriends a certain measure of confidence was required to continue the courtship). The skirts are gone and I’m alone in the kitchen. Have you ever sustained yourself on repetition? It’s one note plucked on the guitar over and over and over again. Before long, you’ll be happy to carry on with your life without ever hearing an A minor ever again. I felt the disdain for hot dogs and chicken breast welling up in my throat.
The time had come to strum a new song. The cabinet was full of notes, flavors, that could enable any protein or any carbohydrate. But I didn’t out-pace myself. Even in a desparate bid for variety, I still felt compelled to meander within some familiar boundaries. I knew the tang of ketchup; I knew what a scintilla of honey could do; I was comfortable with dousing my mixtures with garlic and onion powder. I knew each of these notes alone. I knew how each one sounded in certain chords. What I didn’t know was how they would sound together in the arrangement I concocted in my mind. The point of my meal tonight was to avoid the same old song. I settled on my ingredients with a measure of optimism and curiosity.
You have to have a little bit of both. Like all things in life, they’re just dueling sides on one coin. A good person has a balance of the two. I guess a good cook does too.
A bachelor doesn’t bring out the measuring cups when he cooks. He works by sight and by smell. He freely douses, sprinkles, spreads, and pours. There are three outcomes: the taste is too much; the taste is not enough; the taste is just right (you know how the story goes).
I cooked like a bachelor.
I pulled out the ground turkey.
A side note: They say (“They” being a composite of educated folks like scientists and nutritionists)…They say that some meats promote health more than others. I suppose a pound of ground turkey would be better suited for the well-being of my body then, say, a pound of ground beef. I’m not sure. I’m just repeating the things I’ve heard from people who have skimmed, or at the most waded into the topic of nutrition. I honestly don’t have a full assessment of what is really, honestly best for me. I go with what sounds plausible. This turkey thing sounds plausible.
I know ground turkey. It’s the bass line, a bass line that is easy enough to understand and groove to. My turkey, my notes all went into the same mixing bowl and I dared to conduct a new song. It wasn’t bound to be anything fancy. I had only intended to make turkey meatballs.
Meatballs are nothing complicated. Eating is not always a matter of intricacies. The sandwich will always be a sandwich regardless of how expensive the bread gets. The hamburger (a personal favorite) will always be a patty no matter what animal it comes from. It’s about the flavor, not the form.
This expedition was about trying a new arrangement of flavors and feeling good enough to feed them to not just myself but to other people, people I actually know and would have to see the next day.
So, in went the cacophony of ingredients (a little honey, some chili powder, a sprinkle of Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple, a bit of garlic powder, a bit of onion powder, a little brown sugar, and some ketchup). The notes combined. I dug my hands in and churned them together.
I don’t know much about cooking. I do know that ground meat needs some sort of adhesive (fat, bread crumbs, dried onions), something to displace the moisture. My adhesive of choice: panko crumbs. I know, a little out of place. This is bachelor infused cooking after all. Bachelors aren’t concerned with what’s seemly (unless you’re a bachelor who happens to also be a professional chef, but I’m just being general here). We’re about our own satisfaction…that’s why we’re bachelors and not family men.
Without a hint of modesty, the meatballs came out edible. They were NOT a failure. The moxy paid off. The dare was rewarded with a satiating dinner (and an easy lunch for tomorrow). My accommodating roommate even gave them an approving nod. He noted a barbeque flavor. My intentions were read (owing mostly to a healthy dose of the Grill Mate seasoning).
I would be stuck in my box of noodles, a cup of noodles…noodles… if I didn’t dare the ingredients.