I can't get Michael Pollan's New York Times Magazine article from last weekend out of my head. You know, the one where he talks about how cooking has become a mere spectator sport, how we're all content to watch Top Chef and Iron Chef and Hell's Kitchen and Blah and Blah and Blah and sit on our plump, dimpled arses, breaking only long enough to pour a can of Dinty Moore Beef Stew directly into our mouths without even bothering to heat it up. I'm paraphrasing, of course.
And I'm thinking that Mr. Pollan, whom I respect deeply, deeply, needs to read more food blogs. Because here in this little corner of the universe where I, and many of you, happen to reside, we're cooking. We're COOKING. And we're not just cooking things we've always known how to cook. No, Michael Pollan. We're cooking new things, too. We're clicking around, and seeing what Sandy from Minneapolis had for dinner and thinking, man, that looks pretty tasty, and maybe we're bookmarking her site or tweeting about it or sharing her recipe on Facebook. Maybe we're even blogging about Sandy's food so that our readers can benefit from Sandy's genius with creminis, or rack of lamb, or passion fruit. And we're tweaking those recipes, Michael Pollan, we're tweaking them to infuse them with our personalities, marking them with our own stamp, our creative spin, and we're inspiring each other, and our families, and our friends, and maybe even a cousin or two.
All I'm saying is, I know that a good part of the country still orders Domino's every night, or swings by the drive-through at KFC. I understand this. And I know it's complicated, because people have lost their jobs, or are working two jobs, or three, and are struggling to make ends meet, with less time for leisure than ever before. I do get it. And I don't doubt Pollan's overall thesis, that some people do watch food television without ever picking up a skillet.
But there are also people who have discovered immense pleasure in rolling out a pie crust or simmering a sauce or canning fresh peaches or pickling eensy cucumbers who never in a million years would have predicted, even 10 years ago, that they'd fall madly, passionately in love with cooking.
I know people like this.
Of course, just because we can put pan to heat or render duck fat doesn't mean we always choose to.
Sometimes we simply choose to compose.
Regardless, we're not all sitting on our bums watching other people cook. We're not all popping cans and eating takeout.
Recipe for Fresh Figs with Honey, Balsamic, Goat Cheese and Pistachios
There's no cooking involved here, but that shouldn't detract from my larger point: that a whole new generation of people has discovered a love of cooking and is becoming ever more sophisticated at putting it on the table. Serve this dish for breakfast, as a passed hors d'oeuvre, or even as a simple dessert.
As with my spinach salad with peaches, pecans, and Saint Albray, quantities are unimportant. Make as many as you need.
Fresh figs, halved
Goat cheese (I used Laura Chenel's plain "chabis")
Finely chopped pistachios
Cracked black pepper
Drizzle of honey
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar (I used a fig balsamic)
Arrange the fig halves on a platter. Press a little nub of goat cheese in the center, sprinkle with pistachios and pepper, drizzle with honey and vinegar, and serve.