Monday, January 18, 2010

Meals from Meals

A recent lunch consisted of black sushi rice with avocado and pickled ginger, a hunk of raw cabbage with lemon juice and a sprinkling of salt, shredded, poached chicken with Sichuan peppercorn, and just a touch of goat stew. In case you can't tell, all leftovers.

That's often how lunch goes when I'm working from home. Though I'd rather slave over a hot stove than a slightly warm laptop, I have a rule against doing any real cooking during the work day and so lunch is usually a melange of remnants of previous meals. While I wouldn't have made the above menu as a first run, I enjoyed it nonetheless. These comestible synecdoches always bring back fond memories of the larger meals they represent.

The rice reminded me of dinner a few nights back, when we attempted to make sushi before realizing we didn't have any nori. Raw cabbage always brings to mind another strange lunch: Michael Ruhlman's cabbage and peanut butter sandwich. The shredded chicken brought back memories of poaching my last bird. We both simmered at the same time, I in the bathtub and it in an anise and ginger broth. The stew was made with goat from Codman Farm and root veggies from our winter CSA, proof that you can go local year round.

I enjoy these kaleidescopic lunches. I'm sure there are people that throw away most of their leftovers, and I certainly have to relegate some stuff to dog or compost, but a well managed rotation of meal remainders can itself give birth to other, equally satisfying if less coherent dining experiences.

Lunch is rarely as relaxed or as elaborate as dinner, but eating something the next day allows me to relive the magic of the night before, when I was drinking wine with my wife and not thinking about work. Kind of like those bittersweet moments when you recall vacations by seeing far off purchases on a bank statement weeks later.

And if leftovers sounds too blah, call it small plates.

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