Thursday, September 27, 2018

Comfort Food for an Uncomfortable Day

Like many Americans, I spent much of the day listening to a radio broadcast of today's hearings regarding Brett Kavanaugh. It was an uncomfortable day, so I decided to make some comfort food. Thankfully, due to the current meat glut, I was able to buy some osso bucco at about a thirty percent discount. At the risk of sounding like a stereotype, it was an offer I couldn't refuse. I put on the radio broadcast of the Senate Judiciary Committee and began browning the veal shanks in a Dutch oven. As I was waiting for the Maillard reaction to take place, I was listening to Dr Blasey Ford describe the role of the hippocampus in remembering traumatic events. Science works in everyday life, people.

After browning the veal shanks, I removed them from the Dutchie and started cooking the soffritto, to which I added two anchovy fillets (called 'Italian MSG' by Chef John), a couple of dried hot red peppers, and a generous dollop of tomato paste. I let these ingredients cook together until slightly caramelized, then put the shanks back in the pot, added a splash of white wine, a bay leaf transfixed with a single clove, a minced clove of garlic, and water to cover everything. Not having any thyme on hand, I crushed a couple of ajwain seeds in a pestle and added them to the pot, then turned the flame down to a simmer.

Speaking of simmering, I was simmering throughout the coverage of the hearings- I fumed at the cowardice which had the all-male Republican cabal on the committee hiring a woman to handle the questioning of Dr Blasey Ford. Throughout the proceedings, I had one ear on the radio while I followed Even Hurst's liveblog. I subjected myself to Kavanaugh stating that, while he likes beer, he has never been blackout drunk, and any of the 'ralphing' mentioned in his yearbook was due to a weak stomach. My personal view is that, when you are accused of being a bad drunk, and your high school yearbook entry is chock full of references to boozing, admit to at least the typical base level of inebriation which is almost a rite of passage for American teenagers. Even if you wish to claim not to be a falling-down drunk, the idea that he was a responsible social drinking is silly.

There were cringeworthy moments- particularly Kavanaugh's assertion that his daughter suggested that the family pray for Blasey Ford. That's a lot of wisdom from a ten year-old, but there was a lack of wisdom among the old white guys in the room. Lindsey Graham was especially fatuous today... for the record, no allegations of sexual misconduct were made against Justices Sotomayor and Kagan.

As the hearings simmered on, my pot simmered on, and I started another pot boiling to cook some polenta, the perfect bed for osso bucco. With two pots simmering, and the hearings drawing to an end, it was time to whip up a quick gremolata. By the time the hearings ended, I was thoroughly discomforted, so a dish of comfort food was a welcome respite- soon followed up with a decontamination shower.

The one takeaway I have from the hearings is that Dr Ford's testimony rang true- we do remember details of traumatic or shocking events. I can tell you where I was on 9/11/2001 and what I did throughout the day... the 'Remember 9/11' crying eagle meme crowd should be the first to admit that trauma is memorable.

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