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…mayonnaise, ethics, and religion…

yolk of one egg...

I make mayonnaise this way – it’s helpful, for some odd reason – to do things exactly in this manner – not just from scratch, but as unaided as possible…  It’s a mother sauce – one of the basics of all of cooking; a foundation of many other things.  Add in a pinch of saffron, some roasted garlic and red peppers pureed and you’ve got Rouille.  A bit of cider vinegar, some sugar and celery seed, and it’s the perfect dressing for cole slaw.  Add in some dill, garlic and black pepper with a bit of buttermilk and it’s ranch dressing…  It’s good on it’s own too…

Like many sauces – it’s finicky even though it is simple.  The ingredients are few – it’s all about technique and even then, it never always cooperates…

a couple teaspoons of salt

I think I like doing things this way because it gives me time to pause and think about things.  Frustration always comes to mind because even under the best of circumstances, sometimes mayonnaise breaks and becomes an oily mess instead of the beautiful, silky blonde emulsion it’s meant to be…

the juice of one lemon, strained....

I’m thinking about frustration because many times I’ve experienced it making this – whisking and never getting anything to emulsify, adding in another yolk, whisking more to no avail…  I’m thinking of frustration in different terms – thinking of a guy I saw on the side of I-5 a week ago, old white truck on a jack, tire off, him pacing around the other side,  a tire iron in his hand, tapping it into the palm of the other like Robert DeNiro in the Untouchables describing what it means to play baseball…  My mind wanders and I imagine him in a fit of rage using the tire iron to bash out the tail lights on his truck – and that makes me laugh at an earlier version of myself – kicking in an already dented and bondo filled fender on a datsun with a clogged fuel line.  The same datsun I punched and shattered the windshield on when it’s head gasket had blown and I spent a lonely, futile hour trying to compression start it,  pushing it up a hill, jumping in and coasting down and popping the clutch…Sisyphus may have not had limits – but I do… I’m thinking for a moment about the ethics of things – whether or not it’s alright to punish inanimate objects…

yolk, salt, and a tablespoon of lemon juice into a mixing bowl...

I’ve done this too often to admit – even though I’m generally not an angry person in least – sometimes things just need to be broken in order to set the universe straight…  I’ve hurled – spiked, rather – a phone that rang one too many times in the day for me to listen to, onto the floor of my basement and jumped on the shards of plastic it produced.  I’ve kicked holes in walls, destroyed an iPod by throwing it across my kitchen…  I don’t admit this proudly.  I just wonder, as I’m whisking this mayonnaise, if that’s not a good thing once in a while…  I think it is  – certainly to have a place to vent – because truly you cannot ever in any ethical manner let frustration be directed at animate objects…  Kick the dog?  Hell no!  Never acceptable…  Another person?  No way.  But even more than that – sometimes objects aren’t just the recipient of rage – sometimes – like my datsun – they deserve it.  I’m thinking about the fictitious scenario of the man bashing out his tail lights with a tire iron and thinking maybe, in the overall scheme of things – that’s not only ethical, but admirable.  When some things are so rife with defects, so inherently flawed that they only can serve to cause someone else down the road even more frustration – it’s a benefit to remove that item from the pool of potential use by others.   It prevents another from ever having to experience the degree of utter crappiness that somethings just are…

...the final ingredient - oil... I put a couple of small slits in the top of it to moderate the flow...

…I’ve joked to myself that cooking is like a religion to me.  And maybe, based on the way I’m doing this – it isn’t really a joke – it’s something I do for a particular reason – it’s a place to contemplate things…

...whisking together the yolk, salt and lemon juice into a slight froth...

Now – I’m pondering the idea of what religion is, having satisfactorily solved the dilemma of the punishment of inanimate objects…  This is a deeper question; primarily because, though deeply spiritual, I do not practice any established religion…  I was raised as a Lutheran, had a falling out with the church after seeing a few too many people who viewed the sunday service as a sort of bath to cleanse their souls.  They didn’t live it – they just went to be forgiven for being assholes the rest of the week…  Rinse, repent, repeat…

These days – I think that established religions get lost in quibbling about specific things that one person does, or should do – they way they pray,  the meats they eat, the way they prepare something, the friends they keep.  I don’t think that’s what any of them were intended for…

...whisking in the oil one drop at a time...

The one thing that any religion should serve to be is a path to cultivating your spirituality.   It’s not the only path – there are many – and maybe it’s just one way to begin to do it.  I don’t think that God really cares if you drink coffee or beer, or smoke, or eat pork, especially because sometimes those are the things that help keep your spirit intact, even if they’re shallow and visceral.  I don’t think God cares if you show up for services every sunday to hear a sermon.  I do think that keeping traditions, rituals, holding something sacred, whatever they may be, whatever form, maybe He does…

...starting to look like the real thing...

 

But even more than that – I think that it’s not about pleasing God that’s important in cultivating your spirituality – it’s pleasing yourself – doing things that bring you joy, give you a sense of fulfillment, that you do just because.   Things that you shape your day around, rather than inserting into it as some afterthought.  These are, inevitably the things that are sacred – whether it’s a quiet moment of meditation, a drive along the beach, or making mayonnaise, mindlessly with a whisk so you can appropriately ponder the things that pop into your head…

...lovely...

 

 

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Discussion

One thought on “…mayonnaise, ethics, and religion…

  1. Lovely, and spot on!

    Posted by Mamapotpie | July 3, 2011, 2:26 pm

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