ANECDOTE 006: June 16, 2006
Culinary Competitive Intelligence: Contexture
Family and friends have complimented me on the dishes I
had prepared for potluck dinners and holiday events. Upon
receiving such accolades, I have been asked what was in
this, or how did I prepare that. To which
I would reply, Well, with a little bit of this
and that, I throw in the other--something
like when, but only now, resulting in something
other than that to come up with this.
Such was the situation for the Three
Wise Cheeses and Macaroni--my most infamous evolution
from my mother's kitchen. (Mom's devilled eggs and potato
salad still remain undefeated.)
My cheese combination came about by making friends with
a Shoppe curator who inadvertently guided me in the selection.
I was a weekly customer who tasted samples prior to purchase.
The curator, she mentored me on how to contexturize:
contextualize texture lingually; a vernacular that cannot
be described in words or by taste. After I decided on the
three cheeses for my artisanal dish, I went home to construct.
I returned to the Shoppe and presented the curator with
a sample of my effort, which she accepted in delight. With
this particular batch of Three
Wise Cheeses and Macaroni, that was the other
I was able to accomplish: a crunchy top with a creamy, yet
firm body. When I arrived a week later, the curator
was ecstatic about the contexturalization. She anecdoted,
when she attempted to replicate the "macaroni,"
she could not. Demandingly, she wanted to know now
the other ingredients and preparation nuances. Thinking
of my mother, I regretted that the Three
Wise Cheeses was a family secret that I could not
divulge at this time. Frustrated and disappointed,
the curator understood.
On my next visit to the Shoppe, the curator did not acknowledge
my existence. She refused me by going into the back room.
Upon ensuing entrances, her behavior was the same until
she disappeared from the Shoppe altogether. Her colleagues
gave me a disapproving glare. There were mutual regrets
by all. I did not go back to the Shoppe for weeks, months--banished.
At present, the only efficient way to procure the cheeses
within a single order is to go online; however, the opportunity
to contexturize is lost.
I still make the Three
Wise Cheeses and Macaroni on special occasions.
I think of the curator affair as I listen to the feedback
from family and friends as they contexturize their lip-smack.
For I (and my wife) know, having eaten every batch, that
every batch is different, be the difference in the ratio
of the cheese combination, or (freshly) ground black/white
pepper, or noodle al dente. I try to cook to the
kinship's palate, keeping family secrets (heart and soul)
intact: this, foodstuff listing; that, preparation
nuances; the other, evolution;
when, by situation; now, by construct.