Rich and Unctuous: A Love Story
"We have to hurry to the hospital," Mom said worriedly one evening over supper.
"What!? Why? Why are we going to the hospital?" my seven-year-old self asked, very upset.
No one had remembered to tell me that Grandpa had suffered a heart attack that morning. After bypass surgery, he recovered nicely and lived another thirteen years, but the way we ate never recovered.
After all the talk by his cardiologist about blockages and cholesterol, transplanting veins from his legs to his heart and eating absurdities like margarine, the food at my home (never great) got even worse.
Oh! Don't get me wrong! Mom's food was always hot. It was nutritious. It was plentiful. It was legume-heavy. It was complete proteins. It was very, very low-fat and it rarely tasted good.
I hated it. The call of "Supper's Ready!" filled me with dread. I once confided to a tape player that I hated "botato soup." The only good part was the melted cheese...but you had to take off your coat and go diving in your soup bowl to find it. (Not original. I read that somewhere!)
Mom tried, I guess, but "rich and unctuous" were simply not in her gastronomic repertoire. She followed recipes to the letter, and despite watching plenty of cooking shows, had no finesse in her cookery, no tasting along the way.
While many young adults let out of the protective parental pen kick up their heels like calves and dive headlong into alcohol and sex...I went to the grocery store.
I was desperate for rich and dying for unctuous...if I'd known that particular word existed! Rich and unctuous are the golden duo that lift mere sustenance from fuel for the body to a transcendent and unforgettable experience to be savored in memory for years to come.
Most importantly, they satisfy.
It's like this: Imagine a low-fat SnackWell's cookie. It's very sweet. Hints at chocolatey...but that's about it. If you eat one, desire is kindled...but not satisfaction. Pretty soon, you've eaten ten of the damn things in pursuit of ever-receding, never-achieved satisfaction...and gained weight! (I did.)
The year was 1998 and I was at my first paid job in the food department of the Dayton's Department store, upstairs, at the old Brookdale Mall.The best part was that we candy workers could "sign out" as much candy as we wanted and eat it for free.
That's when I discovered Godiva. Have you had Godiva? At least back then, it was the real McCoy. Rich. Unctuous. Honey, after you eat Godiva, "Hersheys" becomes a four-letter word. One-two-three...a seven-letter word! A travesty. A pretender, harsh, no class. The redneck of the chocolate world. I eat it anyways. Bad chocolate is better than no chocolate on THOSE days. You know what I'm talking about, Ladies!
Google defines "rich" as "high in fat" but I don't agree nor do I necessarily believe that fat and cholesterol are bad for you.
Take the dinner I made for Michael last week. It was a sort-of roulade, that is, I brined bone-in pork chops, trimmed the bone and excess fat and then pounded the flesh as flat as possible. Laying the pork flat, I covered it with a duxelle of finely diced Portabello mushrooms, onions, garlic, cracker crumbs, fresh thyme from our garden and apple moistened with one egg and a splash of Bordeaux. Rolled up into a log and tied with kitchen twine, the roulade is seared in a hot frying pan (butter/olive oil) and then baked 'til the pork is done.*
What part of that is fatty or fattening? Nothing.
Yet it was so rich, that both Michael and I were satisfied before we were full. Now that's what I'm talkin' about!
So now I live my life in pursuit of rich, chasing after unctuous. Because they satisfy. The more of the dynamic duo there is, the less quantity you'll want to eat and the less you'll compensate by plying yourself with sugar, sugar, sugar.
Now and then I'll be like, "Ugh, I need fruit! I need a salad. I need something tangy and refreshing. We're eating light tonight!" I tell Michael. He doesn't care. If I didn't shove a plate under his nose, he'd probably forget to eat until 3 a.m. Pulmonary Alveolar Proteinosis is like that. It removes the ability to feel hunger.
Let yens be thy guiding light. It's your body's way of telling you what it needs. Are you craving rich, lusting after unctuous? Maybe your brain, which is at least 20% cholesterol, needs a boost. According to a March 2018 study, high cholesterol might be just the thing we need to keep dementia at bay. And it helps synthesize Vitamin D in our bodies. Hmmm. Might there also be a link to depression????
I leave you with my favorite rich and unctuous breakfast.
* If you're making a roulade, be sure to cook the duxelle/apple mixture before rolling it up in your choice of protein. In retrospect, I actually over-cooked the pork by seering it too long in a too-cool pan and then baking it for too long. But the flavor was good and that's my point.
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