|cute little time-wasters|
How was this dish? Not as delicious as it was conceptually cool -- that would be impossible -- but quite tasty. Jamie writes that the mozzarella "absorbs the lovely lemon flavor when it bakes" and I was curious to experience this flavor, but all I picked up was a slight, not unpleasant bitterness. Verdict: They were a lot of fussy work and while they double as a conversation piece, once you've had the conversation there is no reason to ever make them again.
I served the lemons for our regular Sunday family dinner with my father and my sister's crew. Mark did his manly duty and grilled steaks (more on manliness and red meat below) and I made roasted sweet potatoes with a k-town kick from Debbie Lee's Seoultown Kitchen. There's a story behind the decision to cook sweet potatoes "with a k-town kick" and that story involves a dilemma and that dilemma has been stressing me out. I'm going to tell the story right now even though it interrupts this riveting narrative of a family dinner:
I'm hosting my all-female book club on Friday. We're discussing Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick, the most engrossing and altogether excellent book I read in 2012. Nothing to Envy is about North Korea and in a fit of exuberance a few months ago, I announced I would serve a Korean dinner as a backdrop to our discussion. I had in mind to prepare the only Korean dish I have ever prepared: Momofuku bo ssam, a monumental pork shoulder cooked in salt and sugar for hours and hours and served with chile sauce and rice and wrapped in lettuce leaves. It is delicious, insanely, insanely delicious, and surprisingly easy.
But as the date approached, I began to have qualms. The vegan in our group had a prior engagement, but what about everyone else? Something felt wrong. I sent out an email inquiring about dietary restrictions. The replies were evenly split between "I eat everything" and "I'm dairy/gluten intolerant, but whatever you cook, I'll work around it."
No one said they didn't eat red meat. Yet the misgivings persisted. Finally, one book group member, a lovely person, wrote: "I don't eat gluten, but don't worry about me. I'll fill up on veggies!"
She didn't write, "I'll fill up on the meat!" or "I'll fill up on everything else!" She wrote, "I'll fill up on veggies!"
I knew exactly why she wrote that. She wrote that for the same reason I've been uneasy about the bo ssam menu. Women, including me, assume that other women will feed them veggies. Or fish. Maybe chicken. But not meat, never meat. The first time I made bo ssam I made it with my friend Lisa, but we were having dinner with our husbands, which made it acceptable to serve and eat large portions of fatty pork. Our husbands didn't even know what bo ssam was; Lisa and I were the enthusiastic instigators. But if it had just been Lisa and me, or Lisa and me and two other women, we would not have cooked bo ssam.
Why is this? Why is meat for the men and sole for the ladies? Is it because women are supposed to be dainty and meat is primal and bloody? Because meat involves violence and women are supposed to be gentle? Because women are more health-conscious than men? Because women are always on diets? Because we pretend we're health conscious and on diets even when we're not? Because we find meat "too heavy?" Because we pretend to find meat "too heavy?" Because meat is historically too precious to be wasted on women? Is it about not wanting meat or is it about not deserving meat?
|I can barely look at this picture.|
Here's my question:
Do I forge ahead with the bo ssam and serve a big, substantial salad alongside? Or do I explain that I couldn't pull off a Korean dinner after all and serve black bean chili? I should add that everyone in the book group is great and that no one will complain. I just don't want the evening to be weird. Thoughts?
End of Korean interlude.
Back to Sunday dinner. If you've lost your bearings, it's now time for dessert:
A year ago I saw a recipe for raspberry shortbread in Elizabeth David's Summer Cooking and it sounded magical, like something Mary Poppins would serve. I've wondered about raspberry shortbread ever since and decided to give it a go. I pictured hard, buttery shortbread embedded with juicy berries, but this was not what I pulled out of the oven. What I pulled out of the oven was a raspberry crisp with a very sandy topping. It was delightful served hot with vanilla ice cream, if not exactly what I'd been hoping for. The recipe is here, posted by someone who had the same expectations and results that I did.
|Why would anyone think this pistol can subsist on cucumber sandwiches, poached eggs, and blueberries . . .|
|but that these two clowns require meat?|