What Am I Doing, Again?


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I hate cooked peppers. I love them raw and crunchy in salad or as a snack. I tried so hard to make them tasty, but I don’t know how to cook them so they’re not slimy and gross. I told people to put toast under them last night so they would have a bit of texture. I would have tossed them with breadcrumbs, but the food processor fell off its shelf at least five times the other day and fell apart into its smallest pieces. Nothing is broken, but it’s taken itself apart enough that I can’t figure out how to get it back together.

Paul, one of the gardeners, fried some zucchini flowers yesterday. They were amazing- soft and breaded and gently flavored. He offered to take over the cook position if I ever need a break. I’m thinking about letting him, but I think his skill is greater than mine and as a result they wouldn’t want me back. Then I’d be stuck in the hot garden all summer, and I definitely don’t want that. I feel like I’m tricking everyone into thinking I’m decent at this, like it’s all a big heist. I don’t have any real experience. For example, I’m still figuring out how to chop onions without crying or fry vegetables without them becoming soggy (turn your head to breathe while chopping and make sure you dry the veggies first).

But, as long as I’m here, I’m going to keep trying to hack this thing. I made Salsicche alla Molisana again last night, which people seem to love and I enjoy making because it’s easy. I also made Fusilli con le Zucchine a Scapece, which is the pasta in the picture. It came out better than I expected since I struggled with the idea of combining mint, zucchini, raw garlic, and red wine vinegar into the same dish. (How could these possibly taste good together? Who puts ripped up mint leaves in pasta? Why am I pouring vinegar on these mushy zucchini pieces? Why can’t I put cheese on top? I thought raw garlic only had a place in pesto?) When the pasta finally went in the dish and I tossed everything together, cursing the stupid strict recipe obsession, everything ended up ok. People had seconds after all, despite my prediction that this was going to be the dish the professor refused to eat or people made faces at, etc.. It wasn’t my favorite dish of all time, but at least it wasn’t awful.

The peppers were, but everyone’s too polite to say so. The jig came close to being up, but I guess the sausages saved me. I didn’t include a picture of them because I’ve already made the dish. You can find a picture of it in the entry titled “The Next New Thing.”

My mornings here are slow which is why I have time to write entries between 8:30 and 11:00 or so (which is when I start getting lunch ready). I’ve been given the task of taking care of Avis’ room, but there isn’t much to do until I figure out how to open her armoire with the skeleton key. It’s harder than it sounds. I’m justifying my seated, restful, non-hardworking position by researching how to sautée peppers without them becoming slimy. I’m supposed to make fried zucchini tonight but I need to buy olive oil and zucchini before I do. Maybe we will stop at the vegetable stand on the way back from the beach today, if we go!

I successfully navigated finding the butcher yesterday and returned home with some cut up rabbit and veal shanks. Tomorrow I get to venture into that new territory. Tonight I get to hide behind the ease of chicken again, perhaps for the last time this week!

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