Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Thought for Food

I have made lasagna. Many of you more experienced chefs out there laugh at the simplicity of this statement, but it was my first time. Not only that, but it was the first time I ever made a Béchamel sauce. Go ahead; laugh again. All I can say is that it worked wonderfully. The Béchamel was what had me worried; whenever I try to do fancy things with French names (like mayonnaise or soufflé) they always seem to separate/melt/clot/burn/collapse instead of blend/solidify/smooth/brown/stiffen. In this case it went as advertised, and I can only heap additional praise on Marcella Hazan's phenomenal Italian cookbook (for the lasagna, the bolognese sauce, and the Béchamel).

My success with the lasagna got me so fired up that I went and made a tagine. These are North African dishes where meat is slow cooked with a variety of spices and garnished for the last 10-30 minutes with some sort of delicious and exotic topping (preserved lemon and green olives, dried fruits heated with honey and cinnamon, etc.). They are a staple of the numerous Maghreb restaurants in France and are great to eat.

While it turned out well, it had me nailed to the kitchen floor for an hour and a half. Next time I will choose a less labor-intensive recipe. One caveat: The flavors are a bit too exotic for young palates. Zoe and Louis pretty much concentrated on the raisins and the couscous.

In other news: This link is for undoubtedly one of the weirdest commercial spots I have ever seen. I didn't know whether to laugh or to worry for the sanity of the writers and actors. And, of all things, the product is Nutrigrain.