My body is buzzing, and I can’t figure out why I’m coming unraveled. I’m supposed to be catching up on rest and relaxation now that the semester is over, but somehow it’s getting worse.
My elbows ache, I blew out my bicep muscle and somehow I managed to crease my little toe yesterday at work to a point where it hurts to walk. What in Hades is happening to me? It’s almost as though this aging thing is real, but I refuse to accept that. It must be something else.
I remember as a teenager telling my parents that I would never grow old, and they would laugh. My invincibility was a silly notion to them as they were once invincible in their own rights, although when they themselves were invincible, films were still in black and white and World War I was a thing of the not-so-distant past. Moving pictures were still being honed and the automobile was still in its youth.
When I was a kid, Technicolor was old-hat, muscle cars were the norm, microwave ovens were passé and skateboarding was being perfected as a sport. With the advent of new trucks, bearings, wheels and deck designs, it was like watching the birth of the pastime right before our eyes.
Maybe it was the countless slams and spills I took over the years – 22 stitches in my knee from a big ramp in Annapolis, mild and not-mild concussions both on boards and in the Marines. Perhaps it’s one of the numerous surgeries that I’ve had over the years reminding me that I’m no spring chicken. As I saw in a picture a few weeks ago, I guess I reached that age where the slightest ache or pain triggers a response in my brain that registers as something to the effect of “So, this is how it ends.”
Over the years I’ve found that hashing out these issues on paper becomes quite cathartic, and I can already feel the reality sinking in that there’s only one person who can make me feel better through the physically straining days of being a chef, and that person is me. As much as it pains me to say it, I know what I need to do, but it has become so much easier to simply pour a cup of coffee or six to get the day started.
The energy from this wonderful beverage courses through my veins as I write, and my brain becomes clearer with new ideas more succinct than the last. The magic of this cup of liquid wisdom does not go unnoticed, and this is certainly something that I inherited from my late mother. When we cleaned out her house, we found over 13 pounds of coffee stashed throughout the pad, proof of her preparation for the Armageddon. She was ready.
I picked up a “few” hours this week at a restaurant in preparation for a big gala affair, and as I hobbled home last night, I realized that I was starving, but that food of great substance just didn’t sound good. There are days when a glass of cold milk or a chunk of cheese seems to do the body and soul right.
Having a chunk of Pierre Robert cheese, a delightful French triple-cream cheese with a rind that is reminiscent of St. Andre, I threw together a small plate of goodies with the help of the folks at Liquid Assets so I could flop on my couch, eat, relax and unwind. Since it was late at night, I imagine it was a good thing that I didn’t eat a large meal.
Either way, I woke up better for the wear. Now that my first cup of coffee is gone, it’s time to make another and to get the next 14-hour day started. I’m just glad that I was able to grab a chunk of good cheese last night. Just as glad as I am to have this coffee. Ah, the simple things in life.
Enough for one late night snack
3 oz. Pierre Robert cheese
Red grapes, as needed
Crispy toast points, as needed
2 Tbsp. Dried fruit compote (recipe follows)
1/4 Pear and apple, sliced
Work a very long day
Next, simply arrange everything on a plate, sit down in front of a terrible 80s movie, and enjoy
Dried Fruit Compote
Makes about 1 pint
1/2 cup Dried apricots
1/2 cup Dried cherries
1/2 cup Golden raisins
1 Tbsp. Whole mustard seed
3 Tbsp. Sherry vinegar
2 Tbsp. Apple cider
sugar, to taste
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, cutting the cherries if you want everything to be of uniform size
Bring to a simmer and remove from heat, allowing the fruit to steep in the liquid until soft and the flavors have a chance to marry. Add more vinegar/cider as needed to ensure that the fruit has a chance to absorb the flavor
Chill and set aside until ready to use. This goes great with cheese plates, grilled chicken, pork and other items where a sharp, sweet and tart accompaniment would benefit the dish