Monday, August 24, 2009

Goodbye, Asparagus, Adolescence; Hello, Blog!

First of all, thank you, Justin, for the invitation. It just makes sense that I should immediately follow a go-go dancer. I mean, we both get stares at all the popular gay nightclubs, even if it’s for entirely different reasons (“Is that immigrant wearing hot-topic socks with Aeropostale flip-flops?!”) Oh, and plus, a guy once stuffed ten dollars into the back pocket of my cargo shorts, but I think it may have been for a cab-ride home. And everyone knows it takes a little more than that to get back to my studio apartment in North Bronx! (Diner food, a smart joke about ‘Mad Men’, and forty more dollars in cab fare, to be precise.)

So, let me just come right out and say that I’m not really good at anything. I’ve been trying to think about what the focus of this guest bloggery should be, and I’ve been drawing a great big blank. And then, post-blank and pre-genius, it hit me like yet another Coen Brothers vehicle (if you’re laughing, get my cell phone number from Justin because we need to meet): I’m good at being single. I mean, really, really being single. What if no one cared about Carrie Bradshaw? Welcome to my world. But don’t stay too long, because you either have real commitment problems or can’t deal with my snoring!

I hope you’re as uncomfortable as you ought to be.

So, I guess this should be about, I don’t know, what it’s like to live in the shadow of Manhattan on the edge of my twentieth birthday, which I am dreading for some reason. More on that dread at a later date, let’s talk about something that everyone, whether they be gay or straight, Manhattan-bred or somewhere else, single or good-looking, can enjoy: food.

I’m not going to turn this into the common food blog. Nor am I going to give you intricate recipes that’ll take you hours to prepare, minutes to fuck up, and seconds to dump into your garbage disposal. What I will share with you is a ritual I’ve been honing since my first pimple: the art of cooking while doing other, more important stuff.

Now, farbeit from me to say that cooking is unimportant. We all grew up knowing how the tradition of family dinners held some family, somewhere out there, together. But let’s face the facts: you’re busy, it’s a recession, and chances are your kitchen isn’t stocked with the kind of cooking stuff that even the most simple cookbooks would like you to own. So let’s aim below the belt, sink a bit lower than the basics, and let’s make you something yummy and healthy while trying to score you someone yummy and healthy.

Let’s talk asparagus for a second. It’s the end of the summer, and it’s going out of season. The stuff they’re selling at the supermarket near my house doesn’t look so hot, but it still tastes great. So while it’s still tasting great, let’s have a little fun with it.

Flash-Brined Asparagus Served with Lemon and Herb Butter

You Will Need:

Kitchenware—

Small saucepan
Strainer
Plastic wrap

Ingredients—

One bunch asparagus, about a pound
One stick unsalted butter
Four cups of water
Four tablespoons of salt (Morton’s Kosher Salt, if you can find it)
One sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
Three sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
Juice from half a lemon

Procedure:

1. Go to supermarket and buy shit you don’t have. Give cute bagboy your number, even if (and especially if!) he insists he isn’t gay. This is called “being coy”. Jane Austen heroines would do this all the time.

2. So you have everything! Perfect. Let’s start by bringing the unsalted butter out of the refrigerator to soften. While you’re doing that, let’s start preparing the asparagus. Now, asparagus is a really handy vegetable. When chopping off the parts of the stem that are less edible than that delicious spear-tip, hold right below the spear-tip with one hand and right at the tough edge of the stalk with the other. Gently bend until it snaps right off. Each asparagus snaps at a different place, which is why this should be done individually as opposed to with one great big knife and a chop down the middle. Instead of throwing away discarded stems, feed a few to your dog. It’s a good way of apologizing for any and all come-down related neglect.

3. The butter still needs to soften a bit more, especially if you are one of those rich-types what can afford air-conditioning. This is the perfect amount of time to update your Manhunt profile with those Photobooth pictures you took after your new haircut.



"The hair says 'top-heavy'. The lips say 'power bottom'."


4. Now that that’s done and the barely-literate responses are pouring in, you’re ready to start the brine. In his book, Ratio, which should be the bible of every home cook, Michael Ruhlman suggests that the ideal ratio for a brine is 20 parts water to 1 part salt. It’s perfect, and a brine solution is the best way to cook your green vegetables. So combine the water and the salt in your saucepan, and turn on the flame to about medium-high heat. Oh, okay, high heat. Let’s do this quickly.

5. Now let’s work with that butter. It should be soft and easy to work with, now. Mix it with the herbs until the herbs are distributed thoroughly throughout. Reform its shape into a cylinder, put it in the plastic wrap, and put it in the freezer. Know that elegance is just a few minutes away with that minimal amount of work you’ve done.

6. The water should be boiling already. If it isn’t, smoke that stray cigarette suspiciously lying on your night-table. I won’t tell. Add the asparagus and cook for three minutes. Drain.

7. Put it in a bowl and top it with lemon and butter. Check Manhunt for responses. Wait for bagboy to call. If those fail, remind yourself that you are an intelligent, independent young man, and watch Annie Hall till you sleep. Repeat tomorrow, with more successful variations.

With fondness,
A.

3 comments:

  1. Crusing Manhunt while cooking asparagus. Fine as long as your profile doesn't say "watersports."

    (see... cause asparagus... makes your pee smell funny... get it? ...)

    ReplyDelete
  2. But isn't love all about the little surprises along the way?

    ReplyDelete