Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Cavalier Cook - Numero Nueve

And now for something completely different! In a gesture completely uncharacteristic of my blogging habits thus far, I have foolhardily signed away my reputation and sensibility to Nupur's year-end cooking marathon. I have been following her blog for a few years now and have much to be grateful for; both to her considerably culinary talents and to those of the people she follows. Nupur and I knew each other many years ago, for a little blip of time at the end of our high-school years in Pune. Many years later, I chanced upon her blog and put two and twenty together and have been since then, a devoted trawler. Enough said!

Ground rules:
This series of posts is exactly what it claims to be; cavalier. My cooking is like my dissertation; sometimes fiery, at other times just not there. Sometimes I think I'm fabulous although all audience will claim to the contrary and at others, what I think mundane turns out to be marginally soul searing (perhaps I exagerrate). In the hope that some meaning will emerge, I am setting myself ground rules.

(a) Full meals only: Every day, I will post a series of things. Not one, not two, but enough to make my civilizing ancestors proud.
(b) I will recommend music one must hear while either cooking/ eating aforementioned cuisine. Look for it on your right under "Today I listen to".
(c) Each post will end with something to read, watch or merely gaze at. Yes I know, it's all quite shi shi foo foo. All hail the bourgeoisie!

So as a warm-up for today, I am going to post the easiest recipe ever.

Coffee and a Sandwich

A sandwich is the first thing I ever learnt how to make. School (as is the wont of most fascist educational systems) ran really early in the morning. By early, I mean 9 am and for those who know my nocturnality, you will know that 9 to me is pre-dawn and just about heralds the end of REM sleep. So most mornings, my mother would deal with my socks and attempt to peel my peepers open, while my father fed me a sandwich. This is the sandwich. This post is for my parents: my mother who told me many years ago that there was no need to learn how to cook so early in life, I'd have to do it often enough anyway and my father, who precision cuts vegetables and everything else to the nth of an inch.

You will need:
(a) Sliced bread: I use nine-grain. Purists will swear by the merits of good old white.
(b) Salted spreadable butter
(c) Firm red tomatoes
(d) Salt and pepper
(e) Basil (Optional)

* Toast bread. I like to keep the edges; if you do cut them, leave them out for the birds
* Cut thin tomato slices
* Lay them two to each bread slice
* Sprinkle large amounts of pepper and a little salt (especially since the butter is salted)
* Add a few leaves of fresh basil if you want
* Put the sandwich together, press with palms down and slice diagonally

I have converted to black coffee ever since grad school. Now I'm a bit of a coffee snob. I like mine black and highly recommend stovetop esperesso makers.

And don't snigger/ cock and snook and/or be smug. Things will get tougher tomorrow onwards!

Listening to: Lila Downs

Reading: Stephen Greenblatt's Will in the World.
An excerpt:
To understand who Shakespeare was, it is important to follow the verbal traces he left behind back into the life he lives and into the world to which he was so open. And to understand how Shakespeare used his imagination to transform his life into his art, it is important to use our own imagination.