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Friday, December 17, 2004

Now, We're Cookin' With Gas

After my morning check through the online job listings yesterday, I decided to take a walk. It was a nice afternoon, one of the nicest we've had here in the Upper Lefthand for several weeks, and it seemed like such a shame to waste it on mundane activities like job searches or addressing holiday cards. So, I slipped on some comfy shoes and set out from Ravenshead, but after a few blocks I realized I was treading an already familiar path, and decided to alter my course, setting off in a direction that was hitherto unexplored.

My trek took me east, in the general direction of Lake Washington, through the Madrona business district (in reality a three square block area consisting of a couple of restaurants, a small grocer -- which delivers, or so their sign says -- an art gallary, and some small mom-and-pop operations, including what appeared to be a rarity in these modern times: an actual haberdasher). Over the hill, and down some twisty, windy boulevards to an area most people probably never venture into, one of those seemingly nondescript neighborhoods that, if you have the patience and the eye will yield surprising details.

This one held, among other things, a "lake" (barely larger than a kiddie wading pool), a nice hilltop lookout, a multitude of expensive homes, and a street pattern evidentally designed by a sidewinder.

After about an hour and a half of trudging through this hilly labyrinth, I ended up in Madison Park, a toney lakefront neighborhood known locally for a few decent, if somewhat overpriced restaurants, as well as one of the few public beaches in the city. Being as it was far too cold for a lakeside dip, I settled for a brief trek through the shopping district, finally deciding on a quick luncheon at a local pub, figuring I could catch a bus up the hill to salve my now weary feet.

Unfortunately, I became distracted by a small, but smartly apportioned kitchen store, one of those tiny places that sells French enameled cookware and Swedish cheese knife sets to upscale urbanites who normally don't have time in their busy schedules to actually cook food, but who nevertheless like to have all the trappings just in case some catastrophe occurs, such as the local deli being out of take-out Osso Bucco, and they're forced to improvise.

I'm a sucker for these kinds of places. Like the carnie barker promising a glimpse of heaven in the form of a twenty-five cent hootchie dancer, I get sucked in by the colorful window displays, and the completely unrealistic notion that, well, I really COULD use a good set of mixing bowls.

So, in I wander, and wander I do for the space of forty minutes, ogling the sixty different types of heat resistant silicon spatulas, the butter wells, the wall of cookbooks, the three-beer-can chicken roaster, I even briefly contemplate the dog biscuit recipe books, because well, I know people with dogs, and wouldn't it be a surprise to give them dog bones as Christmas presents?

When I came to, I found myself staggering toward the bus stop laden with an oversized plastic shopping bag containing a nine piece set of Duralex (tm) mixing bowls, a stainless steel Danish cheese knife and slicer set, a glass butter dish (do you know how hard these are to find nowadays?), and -- thankfully -- only ONE of the sixty heat resistant silicon spatulas.

I won't tell you how much this all cost. It doesn't matter. Obviously, I needed it, the way you ladies NEED that pair of Vera Wangs, and guys, like you just gotta have that PS2 version of "GTA: San Andreas" or you're just gonna DIE! With me, it's cookware. Doesn't have to be pricey or some designer brand (although truth be told, I can spot a bargain Chasseur stock pot at 100 paces), but I just have these uncontrollable urges to buy things that can be used in the process of preparing food -- generally for large groups of people.

And don't even start on some pseudo-intellectual analysis of what sort of neurotic tendencies this indicates: I'll cop to that. Heck, if you look in my utensils drawer, the implements are laid out with the deliberate orderliness of surgical instruments on an operating table. Practically everything I use: pots, pans, knives, utensils, you name it is pure, stainless steel. My cutlery is honed to scalpel sharpness (what do you think sliced my finger open to the point of needing stitches?). It just means I treat cooking as a serious business -- getting the recipe right is a matter of life-and-death. Each deflated souffle or crumbly frittata is like a flatlined ER case in my book.

Yeah, you could say I have issues; it probably has something to do with low self-esteem or an unconscious desire to please others, but whatever the psycological explanations, what it boils down to is that I am slowly amassing a veritable armory of cooking utensils. Which in-and-of-itself is probably pretty low on the scale of obsessive-compulsive collection impulses, but it also leads to the inevitable conclusion that, at some point I'm gonna start cookin' -- for like an entire battalion, and that is just going to put an insurmountable strain on both my stove, as well as my refrigeration capacity.

My only hope at this point, is that I can get through the holiday season with a huge weekend baking jag (Sjet, I can totally relate), that will satiate my desire long enough to get me through until January, when I have two weekends of scullery opportunities at 14/48 to satisfy my unnatural cravings for feeding large numbers of hungry people.

In the meantime, if I can't make it until then, don't be surprised if I show up on your doorstep with enough baked goods to scare a Costco shelf stocker, because now I have nine graduated sized mixing bowls -- and they WILL be used.

Posted byCOMTE on 1:11 AM

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