Last night’s dinner was about successfully following someone else’s recipe. Today’s brunch was about following one’s own ideas. Ever since I fried up the pancetta for fettucini carbonara, I’ve been thinking that pancetta would go well with grits. This morning was the morning I essayed what I’ve come to think of as grits Italiano, a recipe not to be found in any cookbook that I’ve read (though I suppose the true grits Italiano would involve polenta, not grits).
While the grits were cooking according to the package instructions, I sautéed some sliced pancetta and fresh rosemary in some olive oil (regular olive oil, not extra virgin). When that was done, I removed the pancetta and as much of the rosemary as I could from the pan, then fried a sunny-side-up egg in the leftover oil/grease. Amazingly, the pancetta and grits were done at more or less the same time, so I mixed them up, then dropped the egg on top and broke the yolk so it could mix with the grits and other juices.
As always, there’s tinkering to be done in the future. I used too much olive oil, so I’ll reduce that next time. I’m still figuring out how to make grits with a consistency that I like; these were runnier than I prefer. Though rosemary is a strong flavor, it got lost in the final result, so next time I’ll add it later in the process, and probably augment it with some fresh lemon thyme and/or sage. But none of this is really the point.
The point is that after eating my homemade invented brunch, I felt mellow and content. I was full, but it was a “light full,” not the overly sated condition that often passes for full. The deeper sense of satisfaction I felt came from an idea that worked, a meal that came together in the same way that a good piece of writing can appear out of thin air and wind up on the paper. You don’t know where it came from, you just sat down to write something, but what came out of nowhere told you things you never realized. This is something totally different from following a recipe; if following a recipe is reading a map and getting where you meant to go (or not), this is drawing your own map and finding an unexpected treasure at the end of the path.
In the peaceful time after finishing the meal, I wanted for nothing. There was nothing I needed to do, no better place to be, nothing more to accomplish. It was enough. Life was enough, and life was good. It was a beautiful Zen moment that was better experienced than described; a kind of satori, perhaps. The fact that my mind is usually chasing after memories or plans or daydreams made the moment even more striking and unusual. The moment I got up to begin a load of laundry, it was gone and time started again.
In the vein of finding treasure unexpectedly in one’s own life, I’ll offer this post from Shauna at Gluten-free Girl. Some bits of her story remind me of things in my own life, though there are many differences as well. Read and enjoy.