In Praise Of The Sizzle

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Australia does not share a border with Mexico.  

I come up against this unfortunate fact of geography every time I get a yen for Mexican food.

Tex-Mex, Cal-Mex, or just plain Mex, I'm not picky.

I just need it.

After listening to me whinge (again) about store-bought tortillas that could double as frisbees, my brother informed me that, according to the Homesick Texan, it was possible to make my own without the benefit of a tortilla press. 

I Googled.

I read.

I drooled.

I fired up the Kitchen Aid.

And I botched it.

The first tortilla, I told myself as I flung it burnt-side-up into the bin, was akin to the first pancake - always a miss-fire.

After the fifth, I conceded defeat.

Sighing, I reached for the nasty bag of Old El Paso tortillas I'd kept in reserve.  They were coming off the bench.

Standing in the kitchen doorway, wearing a look that mingled pity with bemusement, my beloved asked plaintively,

"Why must you always go to so much effort?"

The truth is that, lately, I haven't.

I have turned up at barbecues with a measly packet of sausages and little else.

I have showed up for coffee with a bar of chocolate (at best) or nothing (at worst).

Weeks have gone by with little more than toast and cereal on the breakfast table.

And my children now think that pasta constitutes its own food group.

In the grand scheme of things, is this a big deal?


And yes.

No one is starving, nutritionally speaking, but every time I do so little, I feel I am living little, too.

And this reminded me of a story....

A like-minded friend was visiting with her in-laws when lunchtime rolled around.

It was winter and the chill seemed to call for something warming.

Poking around the fridge, she unearthed bread, country ham, cheddar cheese, mango chutney and a tin of pineapple.  The perfect makings for hot, buttery toasted sandwiches.

Moving about the kitchen, she asked if anyone else would like one.

Surveying the assembled ingredients, her mother in law wrinkled her nose.

"Isn't that an awful lot of trouble to go to for a sandwich?" she challenged.  

A kind but austere woman, she'd managed to raise six children on a farm, without extravagances such as chutney, thank you very much.

She took a no-nonsense, for-procreation-only approach to food, and here was my friend offering the gastronomical equivalent of a peep-show on a plate.

"We'll just have ham on buttered bread, thank you, " she intoned, virtuously.  "There's no need to toast for us."

Across the room, her father-in-law gazed furtively at the cheese oozing out between the bread,  hitting the pan with a sizzle.

The prospect of another dry sandwich loomed....

I prefer the sizzle.

And writing this blog goes a long way towards reminding me of that every time I am tempted to go for the easier option.

Will the difference between toasted or not change the world?  No.

But it changes my world, for the infinitely better.

So I'm back.

Time to stop living small.

Bring on the effort.


  1. love yr post sweetie. xoxo love to all!

  2. welcome back!!!!!!!

  3. So glad you are back!

  4. YEAH!! You are back!! I have missed reading your clever posts and drooling over your meals! xoxo

  5. YEAH!! I have missed reading your clever posts and drooling over your delicious meals!

  6. Welcome back, good to see you have the writing bug back!

    BTW, we get outstanding Mex supplies @ Chili Mojo on Magill Road just after Glynburn on the run to school :

  7. So glad you're here...I've missed you. I just assumed you were squirreled away working on your book...a justifiable reason to cut corners, though I know exactly what you mean. Now that autumn has rolled around in Japan, good food seems so much easier...make 2 pots of soup a week and we're generally eating well even when I don't feel like cooking.

  8. Emma, thanks for the hot tip! I am there. K

  9. Rachel, as always, you provided the inspiration I needed at precisely the right moment! Whipped up a pot of minestrone (with cannellini beans, not pasta) last night and we have now met our daily vegetable intake requirement in a single bowl. Soup is back on the menu - so many good spring vegetables to exploit! Can't wait to read more about your adventures in Japan - my food Mecca. Sooooooo jealous.... K


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