Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A jambalaya by any other name is just as amazing.

The evening is golden. The scattered thunderstorms have finally cleared after 36 hours of unrelenting rain and gloominess. In front of me is a bowl of ripe peaches from the Webster Flea Market that my brother and I ravaged this morning. There really is nothing like spending one whole dollar on five gorgeous emerald zucchini or two on a box of fresh okra as long as your hand and as thick as the zucchini. We spent one measly bill, and came home with a myriad of fresh vegetables and fruit. When I opened the trunk of my 1997 Chevy Prism that I drove all through high school after the market, the smell was almost unbearable. Between a basket of peaches, three pineapples, a watermelon, and several of my favorite Mexican mangoes, the trunk was like a Pandora’s box of fruit salad. Even as I sit in front of this bowl of unrepentant, fuzzy peaches, their perfumes runs in and out of my nose. I am certain that in a few years in early summer, I will be sitting in some far off place and some smell of ripe peaches will waft into my nostrils. This, I’m certain, will set of a Proustian chain of sense memory, about which I will be forced to write a ridiculously long memoir.

Last night, I attempted a Cuban black bean soup that ended up more like a andouille-challenged Jambalaya. It was fantastic though, I must admit. It even elicited a compliment from my brother, who is completely impossible to please with cooking other than his own. He even got up for seconds – the ultimate compliment. Of course the “jambalaya sans andouille” was topped with avocado cubes and crabmeat. Anything topped with avocado and crabmeat will bring a standing ovation to even the most somber of dinner tables – at least in my limited experience.

My mother is not used to my obsessive gourmandism quite yet. My projactulations of “Oh my heck, this chicken is AMAZING” or “This is the most beautiful mango,” or “I can’t wait to get my hands on those poblano peppers,” has taken her a little by surprise (happy surprise, I’m gathering). She makes comments like, “ I’m glad you’re so in love with the chicken, dear,” which sounds a lot to me like, “That chicken is the reason you’re not married,” or “ Calm down about the chicken, dear, you’re scaring away the boys.”

Regardless, my obsession with food will not relent. It will simply fester until it becomes something that chefs and editors alike will have to reckon with.

I’m trying to think of something to do with all of those zucchini. That tart is coming to mind from the June issue of Saveur – puff pastry, ricotta cheese, Monterey jack, lemon zest, and sliced zucchini. I think that sounds like a fabulous lunch for tomorrow.

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