You live, you learn. Case in point? The great cookie disaster of 1996.
In December of that year, during my senior year in college, I decided I wanted to show my friends how much I loved them. With Christmas fast approaching, cookies seemed the natural way to do that. So, in my little residence hall kitchen, I baked up batches and batches of the things. Unfortunately for my friends, I did that baking during the height of the “lettuce and tuna” phase of my life, which means I baked “healthy” cookies…with applesauce instead of butter…and Equal instead of sugar.
Some of those friends still speak to me.
Eighteen years later, I am a far wiser and saner woman. Now, when I want to show my friends how much I love them, I make risotto.
This little act of generosity is, of course, fine by them. More than fine, actually. That’s because there is nothing that comes out of my kitchen that my friends like better than risotto. They don’t care what kind it is— Sausage and Tomato, Butternut Squash, Lemon and Scallops, Roasted Cauliflower and Pancetta, Spring Vegetables, Seafood, or today’s offering, Bacon and Sage. They eat it all.
The good thing is, there’s also nothing I like cooking better than risotto. When I’m standing over a pot of steaming, bubbling rice, I am Babette, stirring love, not just broth, into the dish.
All food is sacramental—a sign of God’s love and an occasion for grace. But risotto strikes me as more sacramental than most. I think it’s the constant stirring, the constant attention, the constant connection with the food. Cooking risotto demands more of me, and so it ends up giving more of me, more of my love, to those I serve.
Then, of course, when it comes to this particular dish, there’s the bacon.
Continue reading →