Monday, January 28, 2008

*leader of the bland.

Oh premiere issue of Clean Eating magazine, why have you forsaken me? It should have been a sign, really. All those white-flour admonitions and too-good-to-be-true parsnip promises were bound to be hazardous to my health.

It all started so well. "Penne with Creamy Wild Mushroom Sauce," it whispered. A rustic pot of tender pasta, earthy fungus, and sharp green thyme stared back at me. "Cost per serving: $1.59," said the cocky little rag. And I swooned, I admit. I mistook that arrogance for culinary confidence, and all I was left with was a growing belly and the lingering aftertaste of acid and regret.

I didn't have any wild mushrooms in the cupboard, but no matter. We all got along so well at first: meaty creminis, dried whole-wheat penne, low-fat ricotta, garlic, vegetable stock (in lieu of the dried-mushroom-rehydrating liquid) olive oil, dried thyme, salt, Parmigiano, and an egg.

It seemed so simple. I laughed, I cried, I threw mushrooms and garlic and dried thyme (a single girl who can't get her pajama pants into the hamper when playing laundry-ball really can't be expected to have fresh herbs on hand) into a pan.

And there was heat, people. The smell of garlic and mushrooms on a flame fills the senses with longing. Whole wheat pasta went into boiling water, and the synergy was electric. The ricotta, the vegetable broth, a pinch of salt, and an egg yolk joined forces in Tiny Cuisinart to complete the love triangle.

That velvety goodness poured over the mushrooms ...

then thickened over medium-low heat for about five minutes, until it coated the back of a spoon.

The creamy mushroom sauce stirred beautifully into the pasta, and was apportioned into a bowl, certain to seduce with hearty deliciousness. And yet, it consistently disappointed. With each bite the promise of a bright future dissipated. There was no spark. No connection. No ... salt.

It did look pretty. I really wanted to take it out, and let it meet my friends. Alas, it was cardboard. One-dimensional and certain to humiliate me when the conversation turned to literature. I'd like to say I dumped it. But I was afraid of what it would cost me. Apparently my dignity comes cheap. $1.59 per serving.


at: 9:31 AM said...

OK ... this is becoming the highlight of my morning. And no ... NOT because I have a boring life.

K. says:
at: 2:16 PM said...

hooray! i don't think it's a statement on the relative entertainingness of your life. the highlight of my morning is the nine-minute snooze.



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I am a work in progress. I perpetually need a hair cut. I'm totally devoted to my remarkable nieces and nephew. I am an elementary home cook and a magazine worker bee. (Please criticize my syntax and spelling in the comments.) I think my dog is hilarious. I like chicken and spicy things. I have difficulty being a grown-up. Left to my own devices, I will eat enormous amounts of cheese snacks of all kinds.