40 Dishes Down
Dear Chef Bourdain;
I’ve hit a milestone! I mean, not while driving, and especially not while driving after all the wine that you’ve totally ordered me to drink and I am helpless to do anything but comply. No, I mean a milestone like something worth noting. Out of 118 recipes in the Les Halles Cookbook, I’ve made 40. That’s a third down since November (four months ago), putting me right on schedule to complete within a year.
Lessons learned so far – don’t fuck up your meez, add cream and butter, use enough salt, use your own stock, drink wine. Specific things I’ll take away already are a great roast chicken recipe, really excellent mashed potatoes, and a killer, low-fuss appetizer that is perfect for any bar-food craving occasion. I know you know about that, Chef.
Some were pretty awful though – some recipes that just don’t work, or seem to be missing something. Like the rillettes, which were weird and bad. The tart alsacienne, which sounded so good but was super bland. And sadly, the coq au vin, which was a ridiculous amount of work for not much to show. (And I realize now I need to write that up!)
I’ve eaten a giant pile of guts, congealed blood, chocolate love potion, and murdered a lemon tart that ended up great on the second go-round. I’ve also learned that it’s the second go-round (and subsequent) that’s really valuable – that’s when you perfect and elevate your dish. If I were a pro, it’s be the second thousand that mattered, I’m sure – but for a home nerd like me, any repetition means it was fucking good the first time and worth revisiting.
Thanks for everything so far, Chef. Assistant Chef Bourdain and I are grateful for all the good food, and good times with people we both love. Though, to be honest, he pretty much loves everyone except squirrels.