If you have even a passing interest of astrology, then you know that the most basic principle that governs Libras is our underlying, yearning desire to keep everything in balance. Subconsciously or not, it’s how I process and consume art, music, literature and food. For every fluffy album that I put on, I’ll eventually need to hear something heavier and more abstract. I’m equal parts Kate Bush and Kevin Drumm. Fleetwood Mac and Ryoji Ikeda. And so on….
But nowhere does this organizational method fling itself onto my cravings more insistently than in the way that I eat. At work, it’s mostly dabs and tastings of sugar, butter, and cream. Mouthfuls of cake and pudding and syrups. Halved scones and milk buns slathered in butter and jam. Spoonfuls of tempered chocolate and licks of glossy Italian meringue. At home, my eating habits adjust to balance out my pastry work, and I’m really seeing the results right here on my blog. Gratuitous snaps of sugary-sweet Queen Elizabeth cake… followed by a hearty breakfast of eggs, asparagus, chickpeas, and a bit of my stale old levain bread. It’s not a “light” meal, but it feels suitably oppositional to what I was eating the night before. There’s been a lot of big breakfasts like this lately… maybe I’ve been eating too much cake at work and I didn’t even realize it.
So, yesterday was my birthday — which, of course, has prompted an undue amount of self-reflection. I worked a long 10-hour shift, but Adam made me a sweet, perfectly-me birthday breakfast of roasted brussels sprouts over eggs and some good, sour cheddar with toast.
If you had told me ten years ago, or even five years ago, that at age 28 I would be happily living in Montreal and working as a pastry chef, I would have stared at you in disbelief. When I graduated from college (was it already seven years ago?), I remember thinking that I would definitely be a music journalist, traveling the world and writing every day. I might still return to that, in fact I hope that I do. I often get anxious thinking that I haven’t done enough or accomplished that much. But where I am right now — I’m learning to see how it’s exactly right. Pastry may be a recent passion, but it already feels like it’s been a part of me forever.
My sweet friend Katherine gave me this book, written by an astrology-loving Jungian scholar, for my birthday, and I have been devouring it alive. Here’s to another year of Relating.
If you live in Montreal, then you already know that the markets are ridiculous. Like, jaw-droppingly, achingly spectacular. It’s my favorite time of year around these parts — early summer vegetables are still kicking around, and early fall produce is starting to make its first appearance. (I saw pears yesterday!) Basically it means that you can eat whatever you want and in incredible abundance. Yesterday morning, we went for the corn, tomatoes, amaranth, carrots, kale, and fresh eggs. Tomorrow, I’m going back for eggplant — we’re finally upon ratatouille season!
It’s crazy to imagine that as recently as two years ago I couldn’t stand to eat eggs for breakfast, because now hardly a day goes by without them sitting on my plate. Eggs are fast, easy, cheap, and unremittingly delicious, and they effortlessly make my breakfasts feel more substantial. I’m not sure when, exactly, I started to love eggs, but now they’re a part of my daily diet, as natural as coffee or bread.
Sometimes we get these weird ideas for meals and make them, no matter how disjointed they seem in relation to everything else on the plate. Harmony in eating is helpful sometimes, but not an imperative. We had a bowlful of fresh Jean Talon market eggs (from the Captain), and I wanted to eat them all at once. So it was: a light souffle, laced with the final spoonfuls of pesto, haphazardly paired with day-old cornbread and dry-cured pork tenderloin.
I have a very strange and inexplicable aversion to cooking eggs, possibly because of my ineptitude when it comes to preparing them (don’t even ask me to poach an egg, please). My aversion is even more curious when you think about how eggs are often thought of as ‘training wheels’ cooking — think about every dude you know who can only cook one dish: The Scramble. I have had this so many times, and it’s always rubbery scrambled eggs mixed with big chunks of vegetables and sausage and stir-fried into oblivion. Classic Non-Cooker Dude Dish.
This attempt at a fried egg in butter with truffled salt was only partially successful (the other yolk was perfectly molten, while mine had the most unpleasant firmness), but I was very pleased with my spicy hash: fingerling potatoes, onions, mushrooms, garlic, ground lamb, sweet paprika, tomato paste, and plenty of hot sauce. (Note: there is a particularly nice compendium of hash recipes here).
My boyfriend is really the go-to person for eggs. He nails it every time. It’s truly awe-inspiring. My favorite are his tender, silky, velvety omelets (usually as a result of a splash of cream and a thick pat of butter), dotted with any number of mouth-watering fillings (this omelet contained bacon, oven-dried tomatoes, spinach and onion), and topped with a parsley salad. He understands that I like my eggs just teetering on the edge of rawness, in order to optimally preserve its lusciousness.