In Praise of Hedonism

Saturday Anne and I rose early to go to the Farmers Market to pick up some handmade olive-oil-and-patchouli soaps for our daughter when she comes home from Buffalo for her Thanksgiving . Of course we left the Farmers Market with baskets full of the latest and greatest produce to emerge from the soil. We also dropped in on the nearby Compare Foods (I think it’s what’s left of A&P) on Bessemer, which caters mainly to Hispanic shoppers, in order to stock up on canned octopus, anchovies, limes, cilantro, avocados and exotic chili peppers (I had to resist the several varieties of smoked African fish and the enticing slabs of Argentinian beef jerky).

On the way home, we went by the garden we rent from the Extension Service to check up on the leeks and lettuce we’d planted the week before. And what did I see in the compost heap but several banana plants, recently uprooted and their leaves still green and glistening in the morning sunlight. This, of course, immediately suggested tamales, especially since I already had some pulled pork and fresh corn and masa aplenty. We’d also got the last of the season’s tomatoes from the Farmers Market, which begged to be made into salsa. And, of course, we had avocados.

And so goes a typical hedonist’s weekend, with the menu picking up ingredients and momentum as the day advances. Anne remembered some guajillo peppers, which went into the pork sauce. I had the remnants of a jar of homemade Peruvian pepper jelly I wanted to experiment with that my friend Bill Lamar had sent (“Peruvian Aji de Mes + Tobasco + Pequin + Chittepin” says the label). I found the fresh organic garlic acquired a week earlier and began making the salsa, adding the leftovers of tomatoes I’d roasted for breakfast. A cute little winter squash (looking a little like Cinderella’s carriage — but edible) morphed into a creme brullee. Around 4, I went off to hear Lorraine Ahearn read from her new book and when I came back the stovetop was almost hidden by the clouds of steam coming from the tamales and the house was cloaked in the aroma of hot chilies and garlic. I

love my wife but if I had to say whether I love her or her cooking  more, I’d plead the Fifth. It’s the little things in life that make it worth living goes a saying my mother was fond of. I never really agreed. I think it’s the little things added one by one to some bigger concept that turn a drab Saturday into a fiesta, things like tamales and a fire in the fire pit and some blonde bock ale and maybe a sip of that Basil Haydens a good friend gave me.


4 Responses to “In Praise of Hedonism”

  1. Alice Baiey Says:

    I can’t wait to have some of those tamales. Grant and I made sumptuous mashed potatoes (some of the last red potatoes from the farmer’s market on campus) and roasted cauliflower — which is my new favorite minimalist veg. preparation, but the description of what went into those tamales will have my mouth watering till I get off the plane tomorrow (subtle hint: can mom tuck a few into her purse?)
    p.s. I was going to bring you a copy of the catalogue of the collection’s james joyce holdings, but it turns out to cost twenty dollars; so I think I might either wait for christmas or wait for you to visit me.

  2. Richard Gilbert Says:

    I can see it. Can almost smell it. Wish I could taste it!

  3. Kathleen Scott Says:

    Man that sounds good! You must be a Texan at heart.

  4. Antionette Kerr Says:

    tamales & creme brulee (two of my favorites)…..

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