I was thinking about cream.
Ok, first off, let me say I love cream. Cream rocks. I mean, who doesn't love cream? Think about cream right now. Its' rich, unctuous pour. Its' pure opaque almost solid whiteness. Soft sliding peaks of whipped cream, dissolving coolly on the tongue into buttery air. The way, when dribbled into a sauce, the sauce becomes gloriously cohesive, all the disparate elements nestling closer, all the liquids amalgamating into a thickened, luxurious happy family.
It's really that last quality I was thinking about. I was over at Andrew's house, drinking Gato Negro and cooking dinner as he danced around the living room to some phatty grooves, and as I poured two pints of cream over my polish sausage, garlic and chard and turned down the heat to let it reduce, he broke off the rockin long enough to come over and take a deep tipsy sniff. 'MMMM' he said. 'That's gonna be good'.
Ten minutes later I tossed in some grated parm and half a box of cooked taglietelli, and yo, do I even have to tell you that shit was delicious? Andrew went, 'yum, yum'. Andrew's housemate said 'Hella good' or words to that effect. And they both pronounced general admiration of my sick culinary skills.
NOW here's what I'm saying. Not to dispel admiration, I love admiration, but all you cooks out there, don't you ever feel a flicker - well, partly of guilt, but more of a kind of silent smugness at your own cunning? Cream is such a cheat!!! People who don't cook CAN'T TELL that when you add cream you are really making the easiest sauce ever!! There's practically no skill involved! Can you think of ANYTHING you couldn't saute with garlic and reduce in cream that WOULDN'T be good??? It's like the crack cocaine of food. Like, some gibbering fiend in a Tuscon slum could cook that shit up over a bunson burner filched from the high school science lab and her gap-toothed crackhead date would ooh and ahh at her Emiril-esque talent. Or maybe that comparison also works as a metaphor, like, by cooking up lovely pure cocaine with a ton of dead babies or whatever they use, baking soda maybe, you get a primo high that's actually totally shit for you and no one's the wiser!! Not that cocaine's good for you. Goddamnit! Ok maybe I'll just say that sauces with cream are like crack. Impressively delicious and you want more. And bad for you. Although if you eat cream sauce one day and smoke crack the next you can offset the weight gain that accompanies excessive cream consumption.
That, by the way, is why I call shinanegans on French cooking. Ooh, yeah, Cordon Bleu, Mr. Saucier, you're so the top eschelon of great sauces, no one can beat you?! Nigga WHAT? Man put butter and cream on a pile of browned shallots, how could that shit NOT be good?? THERE'S NO WAY. It could be anything. But divine. So next time Julia Childs commands you to bend over and kiss the shoe of L'Escoffier, throw that Le Creuset up at her tall head and say 'You're done, Ms. Childs! Your technique may be superlative but I am hip to the secrets of your fabulous sauces, and that secret comes at the expense of my skinny jeans!!'
Speaking of cream and French stuff, I have been experimenting with an absolutely delicious but unfortunately unhealthy sandwich, the Croque Monsieur. If you aren't hip to this sublime food, it's typically thin French ham between two slices thin white bread, on the top slice of which is spread bechamel sauce and then grated Gruyere, which is then grilled to almost-crispy perfection. This sandwich is so good, crispy Gruyere providing a crunchy foil for the bland creamy smoothness of the layer of bechamel below, with the saltiness of the ham and the crumb of the bread providing a killer symphony of texture and taste, that it should really be American. With this in mind I have been making variations. Here is a good one:
4 T. butter
2 cups milk
a handful flour
5 or 6 leaves of fresh sage, finely chopped
salt and p.
Make a roux by melting butter over low heat and whisking in flour and stirring till it has colored tan, like Giselle in summer tan. SLOWLY whisk in milk till it's a nice thick sauce, this is done in stages, a splash at a time. Add sage salt n p. cook over very low heat, whisking frequently, 20 min.
Take some nice good quality smoked turkey, very thinly sliced. Put a few slices, maybe 3, between two thin slices HIGH QUALITY densely crumbed white bread. No soft spongey shit. Butter a cast iron pan. Turn heat on med. While it heats, spread top of sandwich with two T. or so of bechamel. Sprinkle with grated Gruyere and Fontina mixed. Put in hot pan sauce side up (duh) and take the whole pan off the heat and put it under the broiler, kinda as far from the flame as you can get so the bechamel gets real hot as the cheese toasts.
That's it. Maybe a little parseley chopped on top. Cut in half and serve. Good with cheap dry wine and salad.