on ingredients and intentions

I woke up to the sounds of rain on Saturday morning.
By ten, the drizzle had dulled to a humid country-like freshness, so we decided to slip on our sweaters and sperry's and head to the local grower's market.

We stopped for lattes along the way, and when we arrived we bought eggplants and basil, a half bushel of bruised tomatoes and a rope of garlic, our purpose singular and focused. 

When I first discovered that I liked to cook (after years of declaring that I hated cooking and could easily burn a salad, which was never true, but felt cool to say) I was fifteen and living in Africa, where afternoons could be dedicated to anything, anything at all. If a meal took hours to prepare, I spent hours in the kitchen without a second thought, using my ample free time to teach myself how to tame spices and wield flavors.

These days, however, spending so many hours devoted to one thing, hasn't felt quite so possible. 
But on Saturday, after the market, when they rain began to dance its second act, we focused our attention on the food. 

We blanched tomatoes in boiling water, removing their skins and squeezing the red fruits into a pot of simmering sauce. Garlic and olive oil, onions and herbs. We peeled and soaked the egg plant, dipping the slices in flour, then egg before frying them 'til they were golden brown. 

He played his guitar while I sat on a stool by the stove, tongs in one hand, and a copy of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar in the other hand, patiently flipping the frying aubergine rings, and giving the meal  all the time it needed to simmer and fry, bubble and bake. 

We sipped glasses of pinot noir while listening to Band of Horses, flipping eggplant, grating cheese, stirring sauce and letting the hours pass slowly. Afternoon slipped into evening and the light outside darkened and dimmed through the kitchen window, as we cooked and read, drank and talked and laughed. 

Sometime I think that it is when we are around food that we are happiest. 

When the layered Eggplant Parmesan was pulled out of the oven and the smell of freshly chopped basil  filled the house, I realized that I hadn't taken a single photo of the extravagant culinary endeavor. 
And I was happier for it. For the meal that took time and  love and tasted better for the fresh ingredients and hedonistic intentions. There was no pressure to do anything but enjoy it.

And I couldn't be more thankful.


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