Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Forrest Gump's Got Nothing

Today in the Denville Rockaway This Week, I read an article by the editor entitled "Life's Lessons Over Dinner." In it, the following question was posed: If our choices were food , what would we like our life to resemble- and why? For instance, what kind of life would a mushroom pizza describe? Or chicken pizza? Or a "giant, fudge-laden, whipped cream-topped, banana split?" The article, while thoughtful enough, seemed geared more toward cheap laughs.

But I was thinking, I don't think our lives are described by one particular food or another. I think it's more like trying a new recipe. It's a matter of having the right ingredients plus a little inspiration. Every good cook knows a recipe is a guideline to be followed, but that the best dishes have deviated from the recipe a little in this way or that, until they've been perfected. It's why two people can follow the same recipe and end up with two different results. It's also a matter of not being afraid to improvise when you don't have the right stuff.

And then there's the outcome. Sometimes a recipe works so well that it gets kept and reused. My most recent encounter with this was the orange dijon sauce with sage and thyme I made to go over chicken last week. Sure, it was great on the chicken, but where I thought it really worked was over the rice I served on the side. Now I have plans to use it as a dressing for a gluten-free pasta salad.

And sometimes a recipe goes so horribly wrong, it's unpalatable. Like the matzo balls I tried to make for my mom's class one day. Tasteless, heavy, and accompanied by a funky smell, even the dog refused to sample them. I followed the recipe I was given, and had no idea where I went wrong. I've since accepted that when it comes to matzo ball soup, I don't have the touch. I've learned to leave that to the people who do.

So I say life isn't like a box of chocolates, mushroom pizza, OR a banana split. It's a recipe. Some turn out better than others and sometimes you don't have the right ingredients, but when it all comes together, it's beautiful meal.

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