Posts Tagged ‘Array’

mother’s day recipe: scrambled eggs and leisure

scrambled-eggs-with-herbs

There is one day when the stove and I aren’t friends, where the skillet looks at me with suspicion, and the kitchen might as well be cordoned off in yellow crime scene tape. It is on this day that I am forced, even though my maternal clock has insisted I rise at 6:30 and no later, to stay in bed and feign leisure. It has a fuzzy metallic taste, leisure. I use all my brain power to try and recall what it truly feels like; to sleep in, to take a long shower, to go to the gym in the middle of the day just because. That all evaporated many moons ago when a bundle with chunky cheeks, beautiful eyes and a persistent squirminess was handed to me in a hospital room over eleven years ago. ‘You are a mother now,’ the bundle seemed to proclaim, as I held her in a panic, wondering what the hell to do next.

But I stuck it out and the kid grew on me. Enough to have another, this one a son equally as cute and blessed with those same damn long eyelashes (ones I try, I try, I try to duplicate and never come even remotely close to getting.)

So I dove into my dizzying whirlwind of motherhood; of pampering and nurturing, cuddling and fixing, demanding and guiding and on and on and on until, before I knew it the clock has fast forwarded in a frenzied rate to eleven years later.

So on this day, Mother’s Day, I am commanded to relax. I lie stiff on my bed, attempting to remember leisure, as my two children and their father wreak havoc on my culinary turf, just as all children and their fathers do on Mother’s Day. I imagine burnt toast and spilled orange juice and bits of sugary cereal drowning in insane amounts of tepid milk. But I forget, how easily I forget, that these children are a bit of me, and that in this house there is no sugary cereal to speak of and instead, while I pretend to sleep and wonder, feverishly wonder, ‘what the hell is going on out there?’ the three of them have it covered, so covered.

Husband is already brewing my Venezuelan espresso coffee while Daughter will be gently simmering the slices of lox that will be carefully added to the slow-cooked scrambled eggs she specializes in making just like my mother (whom she’s never met) used to. Her brother will argue, adamantly argue (because they regularly get into discussions of this sort) as to which herb to pick from the garden for Mom’s eggs: the dill or the chives.

My son will demand it be dill, because he is a traditionalist at heart and dill and lox are married in flavor. My daughter likes life a bit more piquant and will insist on the way chives tease the egg and lox out of their comfort zone. My husband will proudly and quietly observe this rigorous dialogue worthy of a United Nations assembly. A tear or two will quickly form in his eyes; he wears his heart on his sleeve; that’s one of the things I most tease him about (and most love him for) and then, ultimately, they will all decide in a very kid-like manner: flipping a coin or a game of rock-paper-scissor. They will be respectful of said decision. They will be gracious about the victorious herb and move on to other aspects of the dish (plating, flowers, notes and homemade gifts: all to celebrate my lack of leisure.) I lie and await a meal that will be memorably theirs and delicious because of it. There will be nothing burnt, for they have been intuitive observers and willing participants in my kitchen over the years.

The three of them will hobble noisily to my room to ‘wake me’ with a tray full of love and culinary bravado and I will act surprised and inhale the comforting and salty aroma of butter, eggs and lox and I will see a lovely family, my lovely family, by my side. My husband will hand me my coffee (because he knows I must have a sip of this elixir first) and I will feel lucky, so very lucky, that for this I have forgotten the meaning of leisure.

a visual tour of portland & iacp 2010

51I am renewed.

I am salivating.

I am stunned.

I am digesting.  Yes.  Lots of digesting, both physical and literal, took place at the IACP Conference in Portland last week.

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Big shout out to old friends and new. We now Facebook.  We now Tweet, I promise to become a tweet whiz like my good friend, Jacqueline!  Eating through laughs is as good as it gets.  Fun games played, I’m thinking namely Human Bingo at Nourish Network’s mixer event – where a crowded room of strangers learned bizarre details of one on another in desperate attempts at shouting out BINGO.  We are a competitive bunch.  And yes, I have been to Africa, for those needing that spot filled.

Jaden Hair, from Steamy Kitchen,  was a burst of sunshine in the charismatically grey Portland day, offering up tips and advice and always a helping hand to those mastering the world of social networking. Be searchable, was a key phrase I came away with.  Dragon Crestwood, filled with spunk and creative energy (and with that name, how could one not be in for a good time!) delivered with her Deep Feast Writing, as we explored our writing lens through a baking potato.  Amy Sherman from Cooking With Amy, reminded us about the importance of knowing your voice and having a niche and agents Jenni Ferrari-Adler and Lisa Ekus-Saffer offered useful tips on queries, book proposals, and platform.  Oh but I leave so many out, I know I do.  Of course Kim Severson, from The New York Times and the food goddess herself, Ruth Reichl, made a memorable duo (requests to host the Oscars are already pouring in), and, Mark Bitterman, was there to offer his salty inspiration and directions to his shop, The Meadow (a dangerous, dangerous place for my credit card, I soon discovered).  Author Virginia Willis and  publisher Bob Dees offered new insights from opposite perspectives, Scott Givot doled out support and fashion statements and Michael Ruhlman seemed to create a buzz wherever he went.

But let’s get down to it. The food. It was amazing.  From the various events hosted by IACP to the morning bakeries to the grungy street cart festival under the bridge, Portland enchanted me with its culinary bravado.  I can’t speak enough about it. But I’ll stop now.  A picture says a thousand words. Enjoy the feast!

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slow-cooked brisket: waking up the daredevil

skis1Twenty years ago I was a daredevil. Today I am chic. I am poised upon the fresh powder (that’s Colorado snow, for those of you not in the know), garbed up in my razor sharp ski outfit (Spyder jacket ice white with aqua and midnight trim, white gloves, sexy black pants) helmet, goggles, boots, skis. Ready for the slopes. On top of the world.

I had made it on the lifts, a contraption I gave no thought to mount from age 6 to 19, but now, at 39, approached apprehensively. All right, approached in a panic. I haven’t lived in Manhattan in over 14 years but it’s as if Woody Allen and all his neurosis had infiltrated me steadily through the years:

“Get on this thing? It’s not safe? A dangling chair in subzero weather climbing precariously up a cliff with lunatics zooming down (hey wait a second, am I going to have to go down THAT?)

My husband was faithfully at my side, coaxing the daredevil back. Or at least trying.

“You’re fine. You’ve done this a thousand times, remember? Scoot up. Sit. Bar down. Enjoy the ride. Simple. Follow my lead.”

We crept up in the crowded line, closer and closer to the ominous ride. I recounted the zillions of times I’ve turned down rides of any kind, roller coasters, Ferris wheels, spinning teacups. Something about my feet not being on the ground and in control just doesn’t jive with this control freak. Yet here I was, my feet already not in control, straddled in clunky alien boots and slippery skis, trying to keep up with Yeshua (outfitted in an even jazzier outfit given to him by the number one Slovenian ski champion, Jure Kosir). In my moment of panic I could at least appreciate how good we look.

I heard a tiny sigh and turned around. The six-year old behind me was getting frustrated with my hesitation. No doubt this little bugger would zoom down the mountain without a thought. What was it about aging that makes some of us more precarious? Why couldn’t I just have fun?

ski-slopeThe lift came and, indeed, as riding a bicycle, every movement clicked and I sat down without a thought. As we swung through the frigid air I begged Yeshua to talk to me, distract me from the perilous death I was envisioning. I clung to the thin bar for life and cursed myself for agreeing to ride this endless and steep ride. But as the ride continued my grip eased and I actually began enjoying myself. It was hard not to. The trees looked so beautiful and pristine, their evergreen branches comfortably hugged by mounds of fresh snow. Agile skiers flew through them with natural precision (I learned with relief that was the black diamond slope, not the beginner’s green allotted for me). So, you see, the slopes looked fabulous and chic again.

‘Hey, maybe I can do this,’ I thought to myself. Maybe those years and years and years of zooming down the benign Vermont bunny slope on Pico Peak with my family back in the seventies would kick in and I’d be able to pull this off as a middle-aged precarious nut.’

I turned to my Slovenian ski champion and smiled. I could definitely pull this off. I looked at him, after all: tall, dark and handsome, but nevertheless a tropical Venezuelan who had never set foot on skis until his mid-thirties. Yesh had come a long way, now hitting the black diamonds and coming out alive. If I could only smile at him long enough, maybe his fearlessness would infect me. I thought of our two young children, off with some ski pro in their class at this moment. No doubt our wild seven-year old son, who already sported a black eye that would make Rocky Balboa jealous, would find the thrill of this sport intoxicating. If he would zoom, then so would I, damnit.

So there I am, poised atop of the main summit, 11 thousand and plus feet altitude. The air is thin and icy and lovely. I am surrounded by skiers and snowboarders and mountains. I am in the moment and take it all in. And then, I see the photographers. Yes! There are photographers. I snag one immediately. Yeshua scoffs. He thinks I am absurd. Why are we taking a picture now? Let’s ski, he urges. But I know why. I must capture this moment. This moment now. When I am full of the mountain, when I don’t fear it because I haven’t quite met it. Where I feel free and possibilities are endless and I don’t live the pain my quads will feel as they burn their way down Jack Rabbit Hole or Red Bull Run in a stubborn snowplow that will not relent to the ease of a parallel ski because I must slow down, slow down, slow down and not hit that tree or that one or that one.  Yesh will patiently ski behind me shouting out all sorts of Zen commands: feel the mountain, you control it, don’t let it control you, put your weight into it, you know how to do this, you’ve DONE this before, enjoy the moment, look forward, don’t look down, be one with nature.” It is all going to get shot at me and I will grow more and more impatient with him as my legs beg for a break and my mind fills with anxiety, I will manage to turn around (and ski) and shout that he please shut up and question over and over and over again, “Is this really a green slope? Is this a green?!” because there is ice (I thought it was illegal for ice to exist on a Colorado slope) and skiers and snowboarders, the same ones that added to the ambience of excellence I needed photographed up on the summit but now just felt like intrusions on my moment of panic and safety as they all zoom past me without a care in this world:

“On your left”

“On your right”

They’d shout on the way down, throwing me further and further off balance and spiraling into blackness.

And then, there we were. We’d somehow made it to the bottom and good God my two legs where shaking but they were intact, and, even though I felt like sending Yeshua to an ashram in India for all his philosophical spewing, he had guided me patiently down the mountain, gently prodding my sense of adventure back to life, which, was slow to wake but definitely stirring, buried under years of motherhood vigilance, weighed down by moments of ‘eat your peas, tie your shoelaces, look both ways before you cross the road, don’t talk to strangers, hold my hand, no come back here and hold my hand.’

How could this persona be expected to fly down a mountain without a thought in this world? But somehow I had. Okay, not fly, but crawl. Snowplow, zigzag. Stopped. Reassessed, and continued. Slowly sawing my way down Beaver Creek but here I was, still chic, victorious, and still married. Maybe I’ll go up the mountain again. Tomorrow. First, I need a glass of wine and a good hearty mountain meal.

tomato pancetta linguine: a blogger’s potluck tale

pancetta-pasta


When Tara Mataraza Desmond (http://crumbsonmykeyboard.com) asked me to join in on her blogger potluck to promote her fabulous book, “Almost Meatless”, I jumped at the chance. Not only is Tara kind, eloquent, and naturally glamorous, she is also a great cook, something clearly shown in “Almost Meatless”, co-written with Joy Manning. All the recipes are accessible, fast, and delicious. I was fortunate enough to prepare the Tomato Pancetta Linguine, because, as far as almost meatless lifestyles go, mine would not be whole without a little bit of pasta, a little bit of pancetta, and a story to go along with it.

Growing up as a Jew in a predominantly Catholic South American country had its moments of confusion. Sure, there was a church on every street corner and every sentence with folks seemed to end with the Vatican stamp of “si Dios quiere” (if God wants), but, even amongst my some of my closest friend’s families (and they were an eclectic, international bunch) there seemed to be some misconception, or at least, uneasiness, with my dietary restrictions as a Jew.

I admit, my family did not make things easy. There was no Hebrew School, no Shabbat, no daily Jewish ritual that would perhaps open the conversation to what we do or do not do as Jews. Instead, our home was enwrapped by a proud and boisterous Israeli father, filled with tales of Zionism and youth and enthusiastic stories of his father, Isaac Abbady, who became the official Hebrew/English/Arabic translator for the British Government ruling over Palestine at the time. His youth growing up in this tiny, tumultuous land was historic and retold as a constant action tale that made my daily visits to the local park pale in comparison. Hence the entire significance of Israel was elevated to an ethereal level, one that didn’t necessarily define itself through religion, but rather, through a fierce sense of nationalism. My father’s love of Israel was connected to the adventure of creating this new land, and once that adventure tired, he moved on, away from his whole family to the strange new promising land of New York City, where he quickly met his American bride and headed further south to Venezuela, settling into the comfortable Latin American lifestyle of the 60’s. This is where he chose to raise his three girls.

And so, even though Israel was far from us geographically, it molded into our Venezuelan lifestyle and breathed through our pores day in and day out. Particularly in the food. We lived a Venezuelan culinary Zionism of sorts, where meals merged happily with Israeli salad and hummus alongside the fabulous pork products available in Venezuela: the sweet Pineapple Glazed ham prepared Christmastime, the succulent pernil asado (roasted pork loin) that was slow-roasted for New Year’s Eve slathered with port, mushrooms, rosemary garlic, and prunes (and a few other ingredients I swore to secrecy). And of course, there was my staple addiction: the chicharrones picantes (spicy fried pig skins) that was my favorite lunchtime snack.

So it would be safe to say we grew up nationalistic Jews, but most certainly not religious Jews, if that label is even possible. Maybe it was a repressed rebellion of my father, who time and time again would tell us the story of how, as a rambunctious adolescent, he managed to bring to his parent’s Jerusalem home a slab of bacon, much to the chagrin of his kosher father. My father must have been in his mid-forties when he first told my sisters and I this tale and his eyes still glimmered with mischief recounting that story.

So, when it came to eating at my non-Jewish friend’s houses, things could get kind of weird. Friends were cool with it, it was the parents that would wig out, trying to be sensitive, inclusive, careful, all the while completely clueless. What do these Jewish people eat? My friends and I would always laugh, for, anyone that knew me knew I ate pretty much anything and everything. I recall one time sitting down to dinner at a good friend’s house. Her mother was a fantastic cook and had placed a dish of piping pasta in front of us.

The family held hands to say grace (uncomfortable moment #1 for Mother as she suddenly realized I-don’t-do that) but she bit her upper lip and proceeded along. Once that was done with she opened her mouth in a relieved smile and pronounced “Okay, let’s eat! “ while scooping out steaming spoonfuls of a crimson linguine sparkling with pieces of salty pancetta.

My mouth was salivating. I was starving and this was one of my all time favorite dishes. But, as I was about to stuff a forkful into my mouth, I sensed an eerie silence and looked up to find my friend’s mother looking at me in utter horror. Before I could proceed, her eyes locked on me and she screeched:

“OH MY GOD! I’m so sorry. You people don’t eat that!!!”

My friend and I looked at each other in dismay, my pal blushing from embarrassment.

“Pasta, mom? She eats pasta.” A curt defense came my way.

“Oh but honey, it’s got bacon in it. Baaaacooooon”, she squealed as if she had cursed the air around us.

And with that, we burst out in a fit of laughter that only startled The Mother more.

“It’s not bacon ma’am. It’s pancetta,” I said. “Paaaanceeeeta”, I repeated, letting my 16-year-oldness get the better of me with this moment. My friend and I grinned and in unison eagerly dug in. “Oh yeah pancetta’s good with me, pancetta is good”, was all that came through eager slurps.

el cuento blogger de la pancetta

Creciendo como Judía en un país sudamericano predominantemente Católico tenía sus momentos de confusión. Había una iglesia en cada esquína y cada oración pareció terminarse con el sello Vaticano “sí Dios quiere”, y hasta entre las familias de mis amigos íntimos existía confusion, o al menos inquietud, con mis restricciones alimenticias como Judía.


Confieso que mi familia no facilito el tema.  Nunca atendimos una escuela religiosa, apenas visitabamos la sinagoga, no celebrabamos el viernes Shabbat; ningún ritual judío diario que abriría la conversación a lo que hacemos o no hacemos como Judíos.


Más bien, nuestra casa revolvía con la energía de un padre israelíta lleno de orgullo por su país y siempre hechando cuentos de la creación del estado de Israel y la participación fundamental que tuvo su padre, Isaac Abbady, quien trabajo como el traductor oficial para el Gobierno británico en Palestina en aquel entonces. De estas aventuaras de juventud mi padre siguó mas aventuras en Nueva York donde encontró a su novia americana y juntos viajaron a Venezuela, donde se adaptaron al estilo de vida latinoamericano cómodo de los años 60. Y fue allí donde criaron sus tres hijas.


Y aunque Israel fuera lejano de nosotros geográficamente, siempre vivía muy cerca de nosotros, particularmente en la comida. Vivímos un Sionismo culinario venezolano de clases, donde las comidas criollas se combinaron felizmente con la ensalada israelíta y el hummus junto a los productos de cerdo fabulosos disponibles en Venezuela: el jamón ahumado con piña dulce y clavos, la receta famosa (y secreta) del pernil asado que se cocinaba lentamente durante Nochebuena. Y por supuesto, había mi adicción básica: los chicharrones picantes que devoraba durante mis meriendas.


Así que podría decir que crecimos muy nacionalistas pero no necesariamente religiosos. Tal vez esto era una rebelión reprimida de mi padre, que nos contaba siempre la historia de como, siendo un adolescente bullicioso, logró traer a su casa en Jerusalén un trozo de tocino, mucho al disgusto de su padre kosher. Mi padre tenía mas de cuarenta años la primera vez que nos conto esto y sus ojos todavía brillaban tenuemente con la travesura de aquella historia.


Así que, a veces, comer en casas de amigos que no eran judíos podian complicar un poco las cosas. No por mis amigos, sino por sus padres, gente tratando de ser sensibles, globales, cuidadosos, todo el rato completamente despistados. ¿Qué come esta gente judía? Mis amigos y yo siempre nos reiríamos, ya que los que me conocían sabían que comía de todo.


Recuerdo una vez que fuí a comer donde una amiga. Su madre era una cocinera fantástica y había colocado un plato de pasta con pancetta delante de nosotros.  Mi boca salivaba. Tenía hambre y este era uno de mis platos favoritos. Pero, cuando estuve a punto de comer, presentí un silencio misterioso y alcé la vista para encontrar la madre de mi amiga que me miraba en horror completo. Antes de que yo pudiera proceder, ella chilló:


¡”AH DIOS MIO! Lo siento tanto. ¡¡Ustedes no comen esto!!!”


Mi amiga y yo nos miramos confundidas.


¿”Pasta, mamá? Ella come pasta.” Una defensa concisa vino mi camino por parte de mi amiga.


“Ah pero cariño, esto tiene tocineta. Tociiiinetaaaaaa”, ella chilló como si había blasfemado el aire alrededor de nosotros.


Y con esto, estallamos en un ataque de risa que sólo asustó a la Madre más.


“Esto no es tocineta, señora. Esto es pancetta,” le informé impacientemente. “Paaaanceeeeta”, repetí, dejando mis 16 años sentirse claramente.  Mi amiga y yo sonreímos  con una impaciencia hambrienta empezamos a comer susurrando entre tragadas, “Ah sí la pancetta me cae muy bien, muy, muy bien.”

tropical scallops: lost in a pineapple

pinaIn my last post I announced fruits and veggies would be on my mind, and so I have been thinking about pineapples. I feel they’ve been shamed in my sub-tropical turf of South Florida: they keep appearing packaged in odd, cylindrical shafts in the supermarket: peeled, cored and ruined of outer beauty, all for the unbeatable price of $5.99. The pineapple, known to scientists as ananas comosus, has a rich and long history, dating back to its origins in Southern Brazil and Paraguay before the Spanish explorers got wind of this delectable fruit when they reached the new land. After the Spaniards got in on things, they took it back to Europe where it made its way to the Phillipines and eventually Hawaii. The rest is history. And that’s history I don’t want to see pre-packaged in cylindrical plastic, I don’t care how rushed we all are.

I live a quiet, gastronomic revolution amongst my culinary-challenged bretheren, a sort of one-woman show that entails pathetic little habits I practice to spread my word of food. One of which involves the pineapple: I’m in the supermarket. I walk up to a real live normal pineapple, nestled amongst an untouched pile of real live normal pineapples, pick it up and raise it towards the sky just as King Mufasa lifted his baby cub Simba to the heavens in the 1994 film, The Lion King and announce to the sterile air piping Lionel Richie’s “Three Times A Lady”:

“Ahhhh. I think I will get THIS pineapple.”

Then I wait and look around. (I do, I really do. Because I believe I have some sort of undiagnosed egocentric culinary illness that compels me to do this.) And then it happens. It always happens. Someone looks at me in subtle shock while trying to squeeze a bag of pre-packaged, pre-rinsed, perfectly chiseled germ and flavor-free produce. There may even be a slight gasp. And then I am bestowed with a combined look of awe, admiration, and pity as folk wonder how I will ever achieve bliss or understanding holding that spiky odd contraption they’ve been told houses pineapple flesh but never, ever, ever have known how to reach. It’s a sick thrill, but, someone’s gotta seek it. I’ll have the occasional gutsy housewife come up to me and ask how on earth I get the pineapple from there and for God’s sake, why.

It’s a perfect opportunity for me to teach about food, something I can’t help myself with, carefully explaining the proper way to cut a pineapple depending on the dish: thin, round rings for a delicate pineapple upside down cake or small cubes to caramelize tenderly with red peppers, onions and cilantro for a Florribean specialty of Tropical Sea Scallops. By the time I am done even the manager who had been eyeing me nervously is just about ready to hand me a knife and a small card table in the corner for free demonstrations.

Housewife’s brow is beginning to burrow and her lips tighten in disapproval and I know what she is thinking: she is wondering why bypass the clean $5.99 plastic pineapple special for this one, with all the waste it will produce. And then there’s the need to actually touch it. Get sticky. Feel fruit. And before she fully loses herself in that bad, bad, world, I explain the difference of freshly cut fruit and fruit that’s been sitting around under cold neon lights, that even though pre-cut produce is a thriving industry, it is one that absolutely and utterly compromises the flavor. I tell her there is nothing lovelier than carving out one’s food, reaching for that gold fruit with sticky fingers and losing oneself in a moment of sunshine and bliss and as I tell her this her face relaxes and a smile spreads over her chapped lips and she licks them as if she can already taste the fruit’s gem.

Yes, I’ve peaked her interest I see. If I were a man this may even work other wonders… I tell her that using the whole pineapple is possible, even practiced in many places. Throw the peel, unwashed and all, into a pitcher of water and let it ferment for several days until it turns into a tasty, slightly alcoholic pineapple guarapo, a popular Venezuelan weekend drink. Take the crown and create a centerpiece with it if you’ve got the Martha Stewart in you, or root it and plop it into a pot of dirt and see how a new pineapple will eventually form. Get your hands dirty while you’re at it, lady. Always get your hands dirty, close your eyes, and savor the sweetness of life. I know. I have screaming children too and I need to do this. Regularly. Cutting and carving and dicing and eating this golden slice of paradise so beats the $200 bucks an hour shrink or a shiatsu massage, I promise her. So beats it.

I’ve gotten lost in a pineapple again and in doing so I’ve closed my eyes. When I am done I open them to see she is hugging two whole pineapples, invigored and renewed; she thanks me, ready to take on the world with sweetness and earth, one sticky slice at a time.

Bienvenidos!

Bienvenidos!

Bienvenidos a Culinary Compulsion en Español!

Hoy estoy pensando en la piña, o ananás.

Me parece que esta fruta no ha recibido el tratamiento que merece aquí en la tierra subtropical del sur de Florida. En vez de celebrar la piña, la veo encarcelada en cilíndricos plásticos en el supermercado donde vive desnuda de su belleza externa.

La piña, conocida a científicos como ananás comosus, tiene una historia rica y larga, empezando con sus orígenes en Brasil y Paraguay, luego fue introducida a Europa por los conquistadores y de allí viajo a las islas Filipinas y finalmente Hawaii donde despego como una de las frutas mas comercializadas del mundo. El resto es historia. Así que no me da gusto ver la historia embalada en un plástico cilíndrico, no me importa que tal apresurado estemos.

He creado hábitos un poco patéticos que practico para vocalizar mi frustración sobre la falta de entendimiento culinario entre la comunidad Americana. Uno en particular es para informar la gente sobre la piña: entrando al supermercado, voy hacia la montaña de piñas abandonadas, agarro una de estas bellesas, y en mi voz mas alta le informo al mundo:

“Ahhhh… comprare ESTA piña.”

Entonces espero y miro alrededor. (Lo hago, realmente lo hago. Como creo que tengo alguna clase de enfermedad culinaria egocéntrica no diagnosticada esto es mi vicio.)

Y lo hago porque se que va pasar algo. Siempre pasa. Alguien me mira en asombro mientras tratan de apretar una bolsa de espinaca o lechuga o pimentón rojo picado- no importa que es, pero siempre es algo esteril y sin sabor. A vecez hasta oigo un grito reprimido de sorpresa, inevitablemente vienen miradas de temor, admiración, y compasión mientras me observan y tratan de imaginar como ese objeto que tengo entre mis manos me traerá la fruta dulce de la piña- algo que han visto en libros o revistas pero nunca, nunca han entendido como alcanzar.

Habrá una ama de casa curiosa que me preguntara que se hace con eso. Es mi oportunidad perfecta para educar sobre la comida y no me puedo contener.

Con cuidado le explico la manera apropiada de cortar una piña según el plato que se vaya prepara: anillos delgados y redondos para una torta de piña patas arriba o pequeños cubos para acaramelar tiernamente con pimientas rojas, cebollas y cilantro para una especialidad de comida Floribeana de Vieiras de Mar Tropicales. Cuando termino de explicarle hasta el gerente que había estado observándome nerviosamente está listo para darme un cuchillo y una pequeña mesa de juego para dar clases de cocina en la esquina.

La ama de casa me da una mirada de desaprobación y sé lo que piensa: ella se pregunta por qué evitar la piña plástica de $5.99 para ésta, con toda la basura que producirá y el desastre pegajoso de tocar la fruta. Antes de que ella se pierda en el rincón oscuro de ignorancia, le explico la diferencia de sabor entre una fruta frescamente picada y una que ha vivido en un envase plástico. Le explico que no hay nada mas sabroso que perderse en el sabor dulce y pegajoso de una piña recién picada, y que aunque en su mundo estéril donde nunca lo ha hecho, le pareciera extraño y sucio, es, al contrario, una experiencia llena de sabor y vida que la dejara mas contenta aun.

Ella me escucha atentamente, ya casi convencida. Le informo que la piña se puede usar completamente: la concha sirve para un sabroso guarapo y la corona puede usarse de decoración o hasta para crear otra piña, si tiene paciencia. Le urjo que lo intente, que compre su piña completa y abandone los envases plásticos y cuando termine de hablar ella me dio las gracias y vi que ya tienia en sus brazos dos piñas completas, que cargó con ternura y orgullo, lista para conquistar el mundo, un trozo de piña a la vez.