18 January 2011

Gruel & Unusual Punishment? I think not!

The veil of midwinter morning bleakness in the Pacific Northwest is lifted when honey and cardamom make an appearance at breakfast.

During a much desired and long-awaited trip out of town to my friend Joseph's cabin on Herron Island, amidst talk of travel, art, food, language, etymology, and many other topics that lie outside of the realm of hard sciences, we prepared breakfast.  I monitored a half-dozen rashers of Trader Joe's uncured, peppered turkey bacon (etymology: Proto Germanic *bakkon "back meat") in a cast iron skillet while Joseph created a masterpiece that, familiar to him, opened my mind and mouth to novel possibilities in alimentary exploration.

Joseph combined polenta, a small handfull of raw unsalted cashews and pistachios, a generous cluster of raisins, and equal parts of Trader Joe's Original Hemp Drink and water.  Stirring the mixture, he perhaps recited an incantation in Greek or Turkish or Persian or some other language spoken in the area surrounding Western civilization's cradle then placed each bowl in the microwave.  Within about five minutes, out came a hearty vessel of morning time comfort food.

Once the fakon (= faux bacon) was crisp, we sat down to a table where glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice and strong just brewed coffee awaited.  Joseph brought out a small vial of ground cardamom.  Adding a heavy pinch of the sweet, bitter, heavenly aromatic powder to his bowl, he suggested I try the same.  I happily swirled in a bit of cardamom, tasted, and thought, "this is like a deconstructed Middle Eastern confection...hmm, maybe I could drizzle in some honey."  Either because he read my mind, independently had the same thought, or knew from prior experience that this was a good idea, Joseph was already on his way back to the table with a big jar of honey (that he had meticulously re-liquified---in the sink, on the stove, in the microwave, on the space heater---the day before).

Honey proved to be the element necessary to bring about citrinitas in this alchemical parvum opus: substantial sweet sustenance from ground grains and seeds, nuts, fruit, water, and honey.  

Thanks, Joseph, for the retreat treat.