Sunday, September 20, 2009


I recently finished a book entitled Alone in the Kitchen With an Eggplant. It was a collection of stories and complicated, single-serving recipes assembled by a true Brooklyn foodie. For those of you who have never heard this term thrown around so casually, a foodie is someone who has an ardent and refined interest in eatables and elegant wines. For years now I have secretly sought to achieve foodie status. I have thrown extravagant wine and cheese parties. I have carefully baked salmon with a garnish of tiny green French lentils. I've used fondant and dream regularly of seven layer chocolate cakes garnished with clotted cream and organically harvested black stone cherries. In this book, the New York foodies flock to Le Bernardin, sampling Yuzu cured wild Alaskan salmon with a side of shaved red beets and coriander infused verjus. The maitre d' constructs the entree so that it resembles a skyscraper, and all the tasting menu items are accompanied by a $2,500 bottle of 1982 Chateau Margaux. To these people, dessert isn't really dessert at all, but rather the entree served as such. For example, in Paris, one would order candied tomato stuffed with twelve kinds of dried and fresh fruit and anise-flavored ice cream. In my imagination, the foodies eat off Waterford china plates and stock up on asparagus and Australian shallots at the local farmer's market every Saturday. Their houses are furnished with things from Anthropologie and they all have a wine cellar. All of them.
And here comes the most regrettable fact of all: I am no foodie.
I have an undying and passionate love for the simplest and most meager of dishes: the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. A foodie would not touch such a thing-- not in a million years. I find myself preparing this course for breakfast, lunch and dinner-- sometimes all in the same day. I eat them toasted. I eat them raw. I eat them cut into fourths, halves, and butterflies. I start around the edges, nibbling off the crust bit my bit before making my way to the middle. When I finish, I let out a satisfied sigh and lick the peanut butter from the knife like an undistinguished glutton. I do so quietly, and in a secret way, so as not to draw attention to the fact that I have immature taste buds-- probably the same that reside on my four year old nephew's tongue.
So there is my confession: I am not a foodie, and I may never achieve foodie status if I continue to use peanut butter as my sole sustenance. I've tried to think of minty couscous with rose water and macadamia nuts as dessert, but I just can't do it. In pure simplicity of mind, sometimes I think that ten thousand ingredients for one recipe is too much, and I prefer the pureness of the PB and J. My hope is that one day this most divine sandwich- more divine than caviar and lavender ice cream- will be recognized as the elegant dish it is. Until then, I remain a foodie imitator, piling my squares of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on top of one another until I slowly and delicately devour them all.