The other day I thought, “The only thing I want to do today is chop up an onion and put it in a pan with olive oil and garlic.” I told Ben and he said “Then do that.”
(Is it really that simple, y’all? Sometimes I think yes.)
I had bought arborio rice during a bad-for-my-wallet trip to visit my sister at Williams Sonoma, and I knew Shauna Niequist had a recipe for risotto in Bread and Wine, so I went for it.
First, onions and garlic. I smashed four cloves through my new garlic press and wondered how I ever lived without it. I put my face too close to the onions and walked around the kitchen all teary for a bit, but man, it smelled fantastic.
Then two cups of rice and some sizzles and pops, which makes me think of something Shauna said from Cold Tangerines – “I want a life that sizzles and pops…”
Then a cup of pinot grigio and OH MAN. I was worried for a second that I had created drunken risotto, but slowly the alcohol cooked out and left just its depth of flavor behind. The rice started to plump up…
Cooking from a book, not from my tiny phone screen, is magical. Way better.
Meanwhile, I roasted some asparagus and broccoli in olive oil, salt, and pepper.
A cup of stock, stir, a cup of stock, stir…
Risotto takes a lot of waiting and thinking, stirring and standing. I’ve been thinking about the other night, when Ben and I walked out of the movie theater to a downpour. No umbrellas or raincoats and a quick but long-enough-to-drench-us walk to the car. We walked along the side of the building, in that tiny space protected from the rain, until it was time to run to the car. Ben counted to three, said “Wait for it…” and right as we stepped into the rain, it stopped. Not slowed to a drizzle, stopped. We stumbled, slowing from a run to a walk, laughing and joking about Ben’s ability to control the weather. We got to the car, dry, and as I turned the key, it started pouring again.
And then I was out of stock and the rice was cooked – tender but not mushy – and it was time to add the veggies and cheese.
I think sometimes God gives us moments for no other reason than our enjoyment of the world – a break in a thunderstorm timed exactly with our small voices speaking into it, not even asking for it to stop. I think He gives us things like stock pots full of tiny grains of rice to stir, cheese to grate, garlic to press, onions to sizzle and pop.
I think He gives us green stalks of asparagus and light yellow wine and dark charred broccoli. I think they arrive when nothing else seems reliably itself – at times when we need garlic to smell just as it always has and for onions to fall apart into uniform squares, knife dully hitting the cutting board, over and over again, in perfect rhythm.
I think we eat til we’re past full and leave the dishes for the next day, pour another glass of wine. I think we say thanks.
All that I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world. (EB White)