Thursday, June 4, 2009

A la Recherche du Poivrons Perdu

Yesterday involved several deadlines, punctuated by numerous interruptions and emergencies, all of which fritzed me out and put me a couple hours behind.  I'm sure this never happens to you.

The good news was at least I wouldn't have to scramble for dinner.  I had the makings of a Mexican-themed meal -- some black beans that could reheated and two ripe avocadoes ready to morph into guacamole, with the help of some scallions, cilantro, a ripe, red tomato and some chilis from the garden.  I'd also come into some adorable little red and orange peppers I'd planned to do something clever with.  The planning never happened (see first paragraph).  I threw a handful of peppers into a baking pan, added a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt, said via con dios, then bunged the peppers in the oven along with the beans.

Then I forgot about them.  This is my favorite trick.  At work, I am the opposite of ADD, even when trying to multitask.  When I'm working on a story, I forget about everything else.  My friend even gave me a little kitchen timer shaped like a chicken, but I get cocky and think, oh, I don't need it, of course I'll remember, that's the kind of girl I am.  But I don't, and while nothing's ever gone entirely to cinders, pots on the burner routinely overflow. Folks don't mention this when they talk about the beauty of having a home office. 

So I'm at my desk working away on some assignment and suddenly my husband's home and oh, jeez, it's 7:30 already and the beans and peppers have been in the oven for 45 minutes.  

The black beans, fortunately, had a lid on them.  They could be stirred and salvaged, and are most forgiving, anyway.  The avocados, alas, were riper than I'd realized, on the spectrum of avocado green that skews to brown. The guacamole was edible but not lovely.  I was cursing at it and trying to camouflage by adding more cilantro when my husband said, wow, that's gorgeous.

He was not being smart-ass, he was looking at the peppers.  I'd barely looked at them when I yanked them out of the oven, but there they were on the counter, looking like the addictive pimientos de padron we'd had at our neighborhood tapas place a few days ago. They were blackened and glossy with heat and oil, with the true color of the peppers shining underneath.

I bit into one.  It was sweet and smoky and tender and perfect.  It did not, like Proust's madeleine, evoke childhood, but it did remind me of, if not grace, then a certain cosmic and culinary benevolence.  It reminded me life is not always nutty and we don't always have to be running frantic. There is time to stop, time to breathe, time to uncork a racy rioja and eat sweet peppers that come together beautifully and of their own accord.    

Benevolent Peppers 

small peppers, sweet or hot, or some of both, whatever you like
olive oil
sea salt

Throw peppers into a baking pan, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with sea salt, bung into the oven set at 350 and faggetabout it.  For 30 to 45 minutes, anyway.  They will manage without you. More cautious souls can set a timer.  This works, too.

Many times, roasted peppers respond favorably to being sweated, peeled and seeded, gilded with aged balsamic and garnished with a handful of chopped herbs.  This is not one of those times.  This time, there is the moment, the peppers and you, pure and simple and just as you are.  Enjoy.

In the next post -- more about self-cooking, benevolent peppers, plus Edgy Veggie meets Crackerman.  

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