Twice now, by my counting.
The first involved a pot of red beans. Camelia ,of course, because I have a friend who sends me CARE packages here in the nether regions where gravy is a pale thing they put on biscuits instead of roast beef.
It’s one of the first things I ever cooked in my first apartment at the corner of Burgundy and Elysian Fields. (ignoring the fact that I actually lived on Port St. in two apartments, one pre-wedding and one post-wedding). It’s no lie that I was off on Mondays and Tuesdays from my job waiting tables at the Fairmont Hotel. So I did laundry and cooked beans on day one.
And I knew how to cook beans, turned it into a kind of art. A specific amount of vinegar added to the overnight soak. Browning the sausage and keeping everything separate until the final moment when I brought the water to a scald and then a boil and finally a long, low simmer.
And at a predetermined time, I would add fresh green onion and parsley, but I’m not telling you the best moment for this.
A few months ago I went to Hawaii. I spent a week learning about healthy eating, diets with no salt, meat free meals and cooking without oil. It’s a good diet and healthy for you. But what I attempted was a sin. And I know sin when I do it.
So after a long day peddling organic groceries and a trip to the no judgement gym where people play video games on their smart phones while ‘exercising’, I was ready for dinner. Let me tell you what I had attempted to cook.
After the proper overnight soak I had sautéed my trinity in water (no oil!) and didn’t add any salt. I used No Salt diced tomatoes. There was no meat in it. I didn’t even add salt to the brown rice I had cooked to eat with it.
Nine and a half hours after placing this concoction in R2D2’s head, I sat down and took a big bite. Into a raw bean. I bit another. And it was raw. So I checked the beans in my bowl. Raw. The entire crock pot of uncooked beans eventually ‘cooked’ for almost eleven hours before I gave up.
Tonight I decided to make a gumbo. I haven’t made a roux in well over a year. I burned it. This is some bad bayou ju ju.
If I was still Catholic I’d be lighting a St. Josephs candle about now.