Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Luck of the Draw

Luck is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a force that brings good fortune or adversity.” (I would have quoted the OED but they charge.) Today was a day where I wondered if this force was against me today. This is what I deliberated while my husband drove in a blizzard towards dim sum. We were motivated by memory, an extremely powerful emotion. Valentine’s Day, commercial as it is, holds in it a cultural imperative to express something special to a certain someone. Our first Valentine’s Day, my husband and I ate Mamma Santa’s pizza and watched TV. This might not seem romantic, but had we had decided as a couple that this was romantic to us.

With Belle around, I decided to make Sunday all about my flu-free husband in lieu of the actual Valentine’s Day. I decided to make it a double-header—dim sum for lunch and chicken biryani for lunch. Each of these meals has strong memories for us.

And therein was likely my problem. The taste, the smell, the texture of food can be such a powerful trigger for memory. Expecting food to live up to a memory is a fool’s errand. The weather on Sunday, with its white out’s and high winds, definitely attempted to tell me that my plans were foolish. But, I am not particularly attuned to nature or the stars or anything intangible, and so we still endeavored on to get dim sum.

While my mom babysat, we ran into Li Wah just before 3pm (1.5 hours after we left home). The restaurant was definitely winding down. There were families sitting around round tables with small round empty tins sitting on the table attesting to the revelry that had just occurred. There restaurant seemed to be in a collective food coma. And, then there was us—full of expectation and memory of happy Chinese New Year’s past. Three dim sum carts rolled up post-haste and we said yes to everything. There were a very nice shrimp in green pepper and some nice spare ribs. We ate quietly remembering all the good times while listening to a Chinese Language program on the flat screen TV in the corner.

On the way home, I attempted to resurrect the afternoon with baked goods, but alas, Sunday seems to be the day that the baker’s rest and all of the places on the way home were closed.

When we got home, I was still confident enough to make the biriyani. I have never really perfected the dish. It requires par-cooking the meat and the rice to a certain point and then baking them so they finish together. We had a great time cooking, but the resulting dish was not particularly good. It wasn’t inedible, but the rice was overcooked.
So, after luck kept foiling our many attempts at the ideal meal, we ended up eating apples and a valdeon (a Spanish blue.) I would like to say this was the happy ending, and the cheese was quite good. But, the unsatisfying day was not easily mitigated, even by a good cheese.


Q said...

Since a chance order at an Indian restaurant in a suburb of Kathmandu is 2000, biryani has been my favorite Indian dish, and one of my favorite dishes overall. But I've only found two places that make it to my liking! Luckily, one of them is only about a mile from our apartment.

If you ever come across a somewhat easy (or not impossibly difficult for the layman) way to cook biryani (chicken biryani in particular is my favorite), I would be forever in your debt!

maybelles mom said...

I will email you my egg curry recipe and tell me what you think.