|Not the prettiest dish, but OH so good!|
I made Coq Au Vin for dinner tomorrow night. Yes, I made it the night before because just like another classic, Beef Borguignon, it’s a meal that tastes so much better the second day.
A few years ago, when Steve gave me Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, it was specifically to make Beef Bourguignon. Truth be told, Coq au vin, has moved to the position of dead heat for first place in my mind. I’ve no doubt it’s due to the mirrored process of flavor layering involved in each dish.
Both meals take between 9 and 11 steps to develop. Both begin with bacon lardons to prepare the pot and browning oil for the beef or poultry. (Let’s be honest here – what’s NOT better with a bacon enhancement)? Then it’s brown the star ingredient, add the liquor and broth (yes, in that order – broth is definitely second fiddle to the wine and cognac), prepare the mushrooms and onions separately to develop their full flavor, reduce the cooking liquid to pure flavor gold and then introduce all the separate entities to each other before serving and finish off with a sprig of parsley (yes- its own step in each recipe)!
As I took the final taste test this evening before allowing it to cool, the only word to describe the sauce that cradles all this goodness is simply “velvet”. It flows over the tongue, awakening the nose and palate, demanding its moment of savory appreciation.
The meal, as a whole and given the advantage of blending overnight, produces a flavor nirvana like no other.
Absolutely, it takes a good deal of time and preparation. But it’s recipes like this that fulfill a desire in me to create, equal to my desire to write. I don’t follow the recipe exactly. I incorporate a slight change here or there, based on my desire at the moment and the materials I have on hand. But the fundamental core remains constant. Writing, like cooking, demands layers that build. Parts that stand on their own yet are better when brought together as a whole.
What I strive for, as an artist, is to walk among the greats for a short period of time with something I’ve created. Whether it’s Julia Child or Joyce Carol Oates I’m emulating, I attempt, for a moment, to share my offering of creativity.
It’s just Steven and I at home now to share the Coq Au Vin. Some might say it’s too much work for just two people. I don’t see it that way. Preparing a meal or writing a piece fulfills a need in me. And part of that need is to share. It doesn’t matter whether it’s one person or a hundred. What is paramount is that whether it’s someone appreciating a meal or a reader taking a moment to read what I’ve written, that the experience to be worth their time. I want them to enjoy not only the immediate moment, but to know their worth in the time it took for me to create that moment for them. If it provides enjoyment, if it feeds their body or soul; if it feels like velvet…well then, I’ve succeeded.