A mother-daughter conversation on food and cooking (mostly)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Pot Roast for Breakfast

I've been on vacation eating other people's food.

This past weekend I was up in the mountains in North Carolina playing in the snow and watching movies and drinking beer. It was a wonderful but truly strange trip in that I did not cook. Okay, I made some rice for the pot roast the second night because nobody else wanted to be responsible (they said their rice turns out gummy), but other than that I cooked nothing. It was a very un-food-snobby trip.

Lawson and I had almost no time to pack, and we hadn't done any pre-trip planning with anyone else, but were assured there'd be plenty to eat, so we brought no food. That felt weird. But these aren't people who care about food all that much, so we didn't want to be too intense.

One friend brought potatoes, baby carrots, beef, and two crockpots and made pot roast on Saturday. It was super-basic (maybe even only seasoned with salt) but perfect after a day in the snow. I ate pot roast for breakfast the next morning, too. Pot roast goes well with good coffee, and Lawson's brother makes the best coffee (it was he who gave me a personally customized old air popper and taught me how to roast coffee in it).

That same friend made green beans using canned green beans and an artificial ham flavoring packet. The ingredients of the packet of artificial ham flavoring were MSG, salt, some preservatives, and artificial ham flavoring. Apparently artificial ham flavoring is an elemental culinary building block, a nutritional morpheme -- it's an ingredient of itself. I do not agree with my friend that the ham packet is healthier than using bacon grease.

On Sunday another friend made chili using canned beans, ground beef, jarred salsa, and tomato sauce. I ate two bowls. There were also cornbread muffins from a box.

At other times I ate Raisin Bran, bananas, tangerines, cheese dip from a jar, tortilla chips, popcorn, and chicken salad sandwiches with lettuce.

I enjoyed eating other people's food and being completely unresponsible for my own sustenance for a little while. But I missed cooking terribly. And it was strange eating such utilitarian food -- food composed of other prepared foods, like a casserole -- food with mysterious salts and preservatives and corn syrups -- food that came in bags and cans. Not that I don't eat those things at other times, but I felt immersed in them this weekend.

It's expensive eating that way. And it's so disconnected from both the source of food and from its preparation. So I'm back home and ready to make messes in the kitchen, to eat Brussels sprouts and eggs and pork fat and to read up on the big bag of spelt my friend the miller dropped off here last week and make some strange brown breads.

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