This week, the observation of Christopher Columbus’ discovery provided some respite. Ironically, Columbus, who was highly influential in sparking global trade and blending culinary traditions across cultures, was among those recognized in my recent research paper about the history of black pepper.
With no travel in nearly two weeks, my bones feel less heavy but I miss the paradoxical cross between the room’s sterile coolness and the warmth of the stove. Other than my usual office work, I’ve spent much of my spare moments this past week resting, planting grass seed in my yard, and reading for my next class assignments. I have also spent time contemplating what I have learned in class and putting it to practice. I made mashed potatoes as instructed, without an electric beater, adding a mixture of scalded milk and butter to potatoes cooked clear of any lingering water molecules. I blanched instead of par cooked my broccoli, having never really known before there to be a meaningful difference between the two. I grilled flank steak, rubbed simply with canola oil and generously seasoned with kosher salt and pepper, allowing it to rest on a cooling rack so the air could circulate giving rise to a perfect, juicy slab of meat. Many of the differences between what I have learned in class and my previous practices are subtle, but when cooking, a pinch can make all the difference.