December 4, 2012

Butter & Bacon 

I thought I was a size 34 for years and years, and then I found size 33, and this is after years and years of walking into Sears with my mother and asking “where is the HUSKY department?”.  Point is we should all figure out what suits us early as not to waste time.

I was raised in a household that, when we weren’t shopping at Sears, did taste tests. It always seemed like fun and was an alternative to bowling, which we did as well, candlepins.  What I never realized was that my parents were seeking a culinary Nirvana.  In my life there are good croissants and there are sublime croissants, and if you didn’t do a side by side tasting from time to time, you might end up eating a few less than excellent croissants!   OK, no tears shed, but it gets important when your talking about Baguettes or flavors of vanilla ice cream, or butter... OK its not important, is it?

My point is that I’ve been wasting a lot of calories eating store bought butter when the good stuff is only about 10% more expensive, at least here in France, and the difference is between great (because all real butter is in fact great) and sublime!  Last month we did a butter tasting, 3 fresh butters and one commercial, they were all good, but now we have a favorite.  Le Beurre de Motte du Capucins! Something to cross off my Bucket List.

Then there is the Bacon phenomenon.  When we came to France, Bacon was an ephemeral substance we could acquire in only one store, 30 minutes away and only some of the time. But we are Americans and bacon is, for better or worse, in our blood, so we continued on whatever store bought bacon we could find.  Now I must be true, the french butchers do something that looks like bacon, but it has bones in it, or cartilage at least, they call it “ventreche” and once you have chewed on that you are ready to stay away forever.  They tend to serve it like most of their meats, undercooked and chewy. But 9 years in, we got daring and tried again, this time the “poitrine fume” and, well, how stupid we have been to stay away.  Fresh sliced Bacon is a whole nother ball game!  So I should have been taste testing everything, no water added like it’s American cousin,  lightly fried with a dash of maple syrup....mmmm!  Taste testing food is more fun even than rearranging furniture

We did that too, it was another sort of taste test I suppose.  How could you know that the furniture was in the right place, unless you tried it in another?  I’m sure this had something to do with my becoming an architect, or at least with my ability to visualize a better furniture arrangement, or a better croissant.  When I first worked for my Friend ED, his job was the coffee and mine was to find the best croissants in the city of San Francisco.  It would be more of an undertaking now as cafe’s have proliferated and with them the supply of excellent viennoiseries, but at the time the first half of the pleasure was in the quest.

Today I see that Quest Fire in much of what I do,  trying another country for one. But even in our life here I have little interest in returning to a vacation spot we’ve been to, which I feel like I “know”.  The french expression Je connais means I know, and if you have been to a place, the correct response is that you know it. So why go again?  At least while there are other places to see?  Paris? done it!  London? done it!  why not start hitting the secondary markets?  Abu Dhabi, Norwegian Fjords, Tenerife????

For better or worse I have grown into a creature always looking for “better” or “best”.  Always wondering if I am doing it optimally.  If I drank soda I’d be forever taking the “Pepsi Challenge”.  This is OK, but needs to be kept in check. I have built in wood, concrete, plaster board, plaster blocks, plaster, bricks, cedar shingles, asphalt, copper, zinc, stone, clay, glass, earth, metal.... more sometimes for the opportunity than of any conviction.  

It would be a different issue if I stopped “tasting” once I found something good. If I turned that into an excuse to say, OK, Paris is the greatest city in the world, and I only want to vacation there.  But I don’t, I connais that city and want to try the rest. Never happy or always an adventure?

My life may be a series of taste tests.....conclusions pending...other than the Bacon and the Butter!