He asks: What do you like to cook?
I want to say: I cook for one: I roast salmon and roast chicken until its skin cackles and its juices drip onto the tiny potatoes below; I make myself a single serving of chocolate cake. All while sipping a glass of wine, low music in the background.
Honestly, I don’t cook much anymore- a can of chickpeas, pulled open, rinsed in a strainer; tap tap to get the water out; drizzle with olive oil, a gentle pour of a thick velvety aged balsamic; shreds of parmesan, a pinch of salt, a grind of pepper.
I pinch an avocado. If it yields softly, I might slice it in half, pulling out the pit with my fingers; pile tuna into its crevices, squeeze half a lemon over it, drizzle everything with olive oil.
A plastic basket of fresh mushrooms, using a small knife to lift skins from the edges of the round caps. I pat a scoop or two of thick labneh onto one side, pile up the mushrooms on the other. Eat them slowly, twisting them into the creamy cheese; white on white.
Or I’ll slice them thinly, drizzle them with black; layer in herbs from the balcony.
Grilled cheese: crisp and gooey and warm.
A tray of cauliflower that’s been roasted until golden, drizzled with olive oil, dusted with parmesan, salt and pepper.
I lower eggs into boiling water for a bubbling seven-minute bath. I lift them out gingerly with tongs and hold them under running water. When I peel off their skins they’re still warm, and I set one on a small plate, and cut through it, the yolk oozing.
A crispy fried egg. Soft, custardy scrambled eggs. A hard-boiled egg dusted with cumin.
I remember when he used to come over with a five minute notice, starving. When I made him pasta for the third time in a row, he asked me if that’s all I had eaten growing up. I wanted to say: give me an hour or two and I can make you that roast chicken, a stew.
A cheese plate: more or less hastily assembled: a couple crackers, a fruit, some cheese, olives. If there are any interesting stragglers they’ll go in too: stuffed grape leaves, pickled mushrooms, candied tomatoes, pickled tiny sweet peppers stuffed with goat cheese, puckeringly sour, their insides creamy.
A pint of ice-cream, wrapped in a kitchen towel, its smooth surface pricked by a teaspoon. (Too often).
Sometimes I make soup. I gather ingredients, chop, simmer. I stand there in the kitchen, stirring, tidying up, my cheeks flushed. I’ll have soup for days, freeze the rest.
I cook for warmth, to create a home, to nourish, to please. There’s less thrill in creating a pile of pancakes/ dishes if you’re alone, in pulling out a pan full of dinner rolls, in baking a batch of brownies.
Plus, it can be dangerous, I know no restraint.
And I come to this place less often.
Grapefruit + Avocado Salad with Lime, Cilantro + Feta
from Molly Hays, whose blog is an oasis of inspiration.
When cooking for one, I like a tidy, minimalist approach. This salad is the epitome of that: one avocado + one grapefruit, and you’ve got a hell of a meal.
1 grapefruit, peeled and segmented (supremed)
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
1/2 lime, + more to taste
several tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
several tablespoons feta, ricotta salata, or queso fresco (cubed or crumbled)
Arrange grapefruit and avocado in alternating layers. Squeeze the juice of half a lime over all, season with salt, and top with cilantro and cheese.
P.S. Images are from my Instagram feed, where I share glimpses of my everyday life. xx