Monday, October 12, 2009

Windy City Cooking: Week 11

(Ed.'s Note- Every Monday, Chicago's risotto champion Jason Hissong writes Windy City Cooking, a column whose title says it all. Enjoy! -Max)


The Most Important Meal
By Jason Hissong
12 October 2009

       The most important meal I ever cooked I cooked for a girl in college that told me it was too complicated for me to make. It was a simple chicken and pasta dish with a white sauce and a salad of some sort. I have forgotten the exact details. She enjoyed it, or told me she did, and at the time nothing mattered more.

       The most important meal I ever cooked I only partially cooked. It was last Thanksgiving. I only cooked the green bean casserole while my Mom did most everything else. In sautéing my mushrooms I used a ceramic dish and it exploded on the stove. We made due, and altered the dish, and at the end of the day my parents and I sat down to traditional, for our family, Thanksgiving dinner, green bean casserole included.

       The most important meal I ever cooked I cooked two years or so ago with my friend Jonathan. This was when he still lived in Wicker Park with Aaron, Bob, and Evan. Jonathan and I decided we wanted to make breakfast for our friends, and so we did. French toast, bacon, sausage, omelets to order. Breakfast for 12, all together.

       The most important meal I ever cooked was on New Year’s Day for my friends; a thanksgiving for them for the past year, and a blessing for the year to come. I made pulled pork sandwiches, Parmesan crisps, sweet potato French fries, ceviche, and risotto. I made chocolate covered strawberries for dessert and sliced my thumb in the process. An ER trip followed and yet that meal was still important enough to me to serve that I was only half an hour late.

       The most important meal I ever cooked involved Jonathan bringing me two pounds of shrimp from North Carolina. We marinated them in a peach jam, grilled them along with pork tenderloin medallions and then made a spicy peanut sauce to go with. A side of green beans with feta, and risotto, and it was the meal I served to Jonathan, Kate, Kara, and Julie after months of hype.

       The most important meal I ever cooked was a simple risotto and flank steak when Jonathan came over and we watched Ohio State. Or a simple risotto for Emilie. Or tomato bisque for Kara and Jason. Or French toast for my parents. Or failed tacos. All of them are the most important meal I ever cooked.

       But truly the most important meal I ever cooked was the meal I cooked last night for Ashley. A small cucumber salad, seared scallops, and mushroom risotto. It was incredible.

       How can this be? How can all of these meals be the most important meal I ever cooked?

       It’s a simple answer, and it goes back to one of my stated reasons for loving to cook: the present moment. It’s been one of my primary aims recently to focus on the moment at hand. No dwelling in regret, no future-izing about what may or may not happen. Cooking always focuses me on the present moment, because if I’m not my food is bad.

       So that’s it. The most important meal I’ve ever made is the last one I made. Or, more specifically, the one I’m making right now. It’s the only one that matters in the present moment.
What I Cooked, What Others Cooked For Me, Where I Ate

       I cooked mushroom and bacon risotto, seared scallops, and cucumber salad for Ashley Saturday night. Other than that it was simple dishes this week- rice and chicken, scrambled eggs. That’s about it.

       Ashley was the only person that cooked for me this week. She made me an amazingly spicy and filling bean soup tonight. There’s not much better than a hearty soup/stew on a cold fall-going-into-winter evening.

       I ate at three really great places this week. On Tuesday I had the pepper steak and rice at Thai Linda Café, I had a chorizo burrito suizo at Fast Super Burrito, and I had the TBLT- a deluxe BLT- at the Brownstone.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice, kind of a different take than usual which is cool.