Although I’ve never come up short in the crazy category, there are some gastronomical indulgences that even I refuse to make at home. You see, a lot of what drags me into the kitchen is a complaint: I find something dissatisfying in its availability, quality or it brings me ennui. But items on my list of cooking refusals fall into none of these categories, and that’s why I’ll gladly leave the sausage, sushi and bagel making to others in this great city.
Considering that my parents will celebrate the 40th anniversary of their first date this weekend, it seems only appropriate to use today shed light on a certain farce: my mother didn’t marry my father for his flamenco guitar, his ability to use a hammer and a nail or his promises to love her for the next hereafter. Nope, she married him because when she asked his aunt for the recipe to her delicious noodle kugel, she was told she couldn’t have it until she married my father. And so it was. And you might think this story cruel or careless, but really, mother has been telling me and my sister this our whole lives and my father seems not in the least offended. “I only married him for that noodle kugel recipe,” she says, and everyone nods and smiles because, well, they’ve heard it a zillion times before but also because the kugel is just that good. What’s to question?
If you’ve ever tried to recreate something you loved when you were growing up in your own kitchen, you know how difficult it can to match your taste memory to the reality of ingredients and step-by-step directions. Sometimes, even when you get the flavor right, it doesn’t feel right, but you hold out for those rare times that everything falls into place.
Despite the fact that it takes some kind of crazy to cook a separate meal while embedded in preparing a multi-course meal for a dinner party, yet another night of take-out — even from my beloved Kitchen Market — seemed unbearable last night, and seeing as it was the first night of Hanukah, it was only appropriate to make a batch of latkes. But tradition is so boring, isn’t it? Thank goodness for Food & Wine’s deliriously enticing latke-vodka party (this is the second year in a row I am kicking myself for not having one — 2007 Deb, get on that!), pairing them with the wasabi cream topping, the suggested accompaniment for the sweet potato variety. Awesome, awesome. We skipped the caviar and what-not on top as only one of us would have loved that and it was not the person standing over the stove, tra-la-la. It all went perfectly with a lightly-dressed napa cabbage salad and, you betcha, a hefty glass of wine.