Leave the Machines on the Shelf
Although machines and other devices do make our time in the kitchen easier plus faster to the plate, the joys of doing things by hand are tangible but subtle.
I tend to do many things with my fingers and hands that could be made quicker, but there is something almost sensual about using my digits.
One case in point came the other day when I was preparing a simple eggplant calzone with focaccia dough. In preparing the dough, I enjoy the spreading and dimpling when I massage the mound of fresh slack dough into it’s final shape. In this instance, I spread the slices of salted and oven browned eggplant gently into place and spooned the home made sauce on top of each slice. The cheese was a whole milk Mozzarella from Casique. I prefer whole milk cheeses for their richness.
This was the first time I had used this particular cheese from Casique. I saw it on the grocer’s shelf and always willing to try something new, tossed it into my cart. The packaging was the familiar short cylinder squished almost round by the shrink wrap plastic. The texture when opened however was a bit of a surprise, falling in between the usual stringiness of the other brands whole milk offerings and the utter soft cloud of a true fresh Mozz. It did not readily string but had an almost sticky texture, unwilling for me to separate one small part from the whole. The stickiness made the grater of little use, it required tearing little chunks instead of a good shred. Using a knife would be not much better.
While fresh Mozzarella is almost often torn into small bits for a pizza, the even coverage of a harder low moisture cheese in shreds covers the pie more evenly. In this case, the cheese was too hard for me to simply pinch off pieces and I had to use my thumb nail to get the proper size necessary.
I noticed that everything slowed down as I concentrated on my task. Rather than being annoyed at the extra work, it became an almost Zen like practice as each small piece was placed just so on the pie. Never before had cheese become a focus of a meditation.
Cooking overall has long been an exercise in a sort of meditation for me as I transform raw ingredients into something hopefully delicious and healthful. In this case, focusing on the cheese helped me do just that. Of course it was just a pizza, but it fulfilled it’s purpose as it was quickly devoured.