Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene
The Big Move
What does one cook when one is moving?
If you are like me, and God help you if that’s the case, you buy $21 worth of crabmeat, some heirloom tomatoes, a seedless cucumber – and then order takeout from Five Happiness because you are not done packing on the evening before you move to a new house. Why are you not done packing? Because you are constitutionally incapable of actually doing most things ahead of time and your wife, who is normally the one doing things ahead of time, is anxious about change and particularly moving and also your children just started school and the lease on your Subaru is up and you have not made arrangements to acquire a new vehicle.
So the crabmeat sits on ice, and the seedless cucumber looks at you accusingly when you open the refrigerator door: “Last time you bought a seedless cucumber, you let it rot in its plastic shrink-wrap skin,” it seems to say. And you think, “Not this time, seedless cucumber! This time I’ll combine you with that crabmeat and some diced heirloom tomatoes and some of the Greek basil I’m going to have to leave in the garden when we move!” But you know the cucumber is almost certainly going to rot in its plastic skin because you’re moving and you have a job and a sideline writing about food.
Then you remember you have a column due, or to be fair, you remember for the third time that day, and you start thinking about what you can write. You draw a blank, then you just start writing because sometimes that works, and praise Jesus it seems to be working again as far as you can tell. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether it’s working because you are not objective about your writing and are frequently more amused by it than you should be.
What I’m saying is that I’ve got an anticipatorily rotting cucumber in my refrigerator and a pound of crabmeat on ice.
But that’s not all! Moving also forces one to clean the pantry. And if you’re like me (and for Pete’s sake make some life-changes if you are), you have a lot of things in your pantry that you bought with the intention of using them and then didn’t. In my case, those things tend to be fermented and from China, Malaysia or Thailand. Crisp Chili Oil with Soybean was probably still good, but I think I bought it in 1998, and I couldn’t find a “sell-by” date in a language I can read, so out it went. I was going to throw out the Amber Tea Sugar whose provenance I cannot remember, but my son declared it good and then made tea and did not suffer ill effects, so I figured it was OK.
Then there’s the freezer, and if you’re like me (seriously?), you have things in the freezer that are not identifiable even though you’ve written what they are (were) on the lid. I have a habit of deciding that just because I cooked a lot of something mediocre doesn’t mean I should throw the un-eaten portion out. Except now I am moving and I do not want to cart several quarts of slightly undercooked beans or moderately overcooked beef stew that nobody actually ate back in January across town, especially since the freezer in the new house is smaller and not as easy to organize.
So there’s been some culling, and a whole lot of boxing of cookbooks, and by the time you read this I will be driving a very large truck full of furniture and cookbooks to the new address of Chez Peyton in Broadmoor. It will likely be sometime around next year before we are actually settled in and un-boxed, but c’est la vie.
Wish me well!