Tuesday, May 16, 2006

the best of intentions

I read in the NY Times that it was ramp season. Nearly 32 years old, and unless a chef snuck it onto my plate, I have never eaten a ramp. So, passing near Union Square one weekday in the first week of May, I bought a bunch from a farmer, asking him what I should do with them. "They're good with anything!" he offererd cheerfully but unhelpfully. When in doubt, I thought, saute it with eggs. But I didn't get that far; I'm never home and lately somehow too rushed even to make breakfast. The ramps grew old and soft on my refrigerator shelf, until I threw them away. Ramp season-- a brief window-- now over.

That didn't stop me from buying half a pound of gorgeous fresh rhubarb at Union Square the following week. I imagined the compote I would make, and how good it would taste over plain yogurt. I imagine lots of things, and my imagination is mostly a more perfect place than my reality. This held true for the rhubarb, which I oversweetened and overcooked. I tried to eat it over a bowl of hot oatmeal, and thought to myself as I chewed, "This is one of the worst things I have ever made."

Lately the gap between the world I hope and plan for and the world I've got has been seeming frustratingly large. The ramps are a reminder that my schedule is for shit, and the rhubarb is a reminder that I can fail at things, even when they seem failsafe. Failures in the kitchen are frustrating-- especially when they involve beautiful seasonal ingredients that won't be available again for a while--but I try to see each one as a learning experience. The real challenge is to apply that same kind of thinking to the world outside the kitchen. Failures can be beautiful...? I'm trying it on for size.


JJ said...

mmm-hmm. that is some crazy metaphorin', yo.

typingelbow said...

silly putty was a failure, yo. and look how fabulous that stinky comic-book copying stuff turned out!