It has been a while, hasn’t it? I was reminded of this by a few friends the other day over beer, who encouraged me to get at it again, and where the hell have I been?
Many, many months ago, I embarked upon a freelance job that involved the election in November. Slowly, slowly, I watched the summer slip away while I remained indoors parked in front of dual 24″ monitors, the unnatural blue glow helping me to maintain the look of a pale fish in the middle of a summer of record heat. As a part of my increasingly vampiric existence, food became something scooped out of tin foil pans and shoveled in mindlessly with plastic forks. My favorite season wherein I could giddily run around a farmer’s market and buy obscene amounts of fresh veggies, and I was spending it eating scads of starchy takeout, because even my staunch home-cooked-dear-sweet-christmas-not-out-of-a-box food ethos was no match for marathon hours and never-ending days. On one of the days off somewhere in August, I attempted to make a pot of rice, and as it turns out I was so far gone from having normal human skills, I could not even do that simple task. So I began to take up a weekly roost at a local bar on my one free day where I could at least slowly drink a couple glasses of magnificent beer and quietly suck down one of their delicious ham sandwiches.
But then… it ended. Time began to realign itself into sensible chunks. Having become accustomed to takeout, I kept on in that vein for a while, unable to break the chain. And then, one day, I had an urge. It involved vegetables. Fresh ones. And noodles. A simple pile of things I could cook myself and pile steaming into a single ceramic bowl and eat with a fork made of metal, things I would actually wash later. It’s a simple thing I had concocted a while ago, something that doesn’t have a formal recipe, but just involves a lot of zen slicing. Udon noodles boiling in a pot with a strip of kombu. Then there is ginger, red peppers, shitake mushrooms, onions, jalapenos, snow peas, bok choi, garlic, anything I could get my hands on, sauteed up in whatever order I saw fit in some peanut oil, just until the veggies cooked, glistening brilliantly and bursting with their own flavors, then tossed with the cooked noodles and soy sauce and tossed into a bowl. This is no fancy presentation, no refined recipe, just… veggies and udon noodles, piled unprettily in a bowl.
It was delicious. And slowly, bit by bit, I inched back into my kitchen. There are veggies to saute, meat to sear, and dough to knead. And of course, a few blog posts to photograph and write. Until the next bite…