Deals, Dares & Reviews To Help You Savor Your World.
It’s been a really weird, warm winter so far here in Chicago, and everyone but me seems ecstatic. Friends and water-cooler acquaintances go on and on about how great the weather’s been, how we should all count our blessings. We’ll sure take it! they say, nodding rapidly and showing lots of teeth.
But I’m not quite convinced.
Part of me — the irrepressible cynic, I’m sure – keeps wondering when the other shoe will drop eighteen inches of sleet and snow on our unsuspecting, hatless heads. Mother Nature will have the last laugh, and don’t say I didn’t warn you. But mainly, I’m pissed that we’ve all been gypped out of our winter season and the warm and comforting food it inspires.
I love the change of seasons — four years of wallowing in the banal, unrelenting sunshine of Los Angeles convinced me of that long ago, and the first chance I got I ran back to the Midwest where we all own scarves and Christmas doesn’t look ridiculous and contrived in the midst of palm trees. Spring leads to Summer leads to Autumn leads to Winter here in Chicago, and that’s exactly as it should be. Each new season brings a different wardrobe, a different outlook, a different bounty of food, a different menu.
Winter’s harvest is a joy to shop for – lemons and grapefruits, radicchio and rutabegas, kiwis and kumquats, leeks and artichokes, persimmons and pears. And I especially love cooking and baking when the weather outside is frightful: meaty beef chili, lamb stew and shepherd’s pie; slow-braised country pork ribs, meatloaf and mashed potatoes; warm gingerbread cookies and Red Velvet cake and gooey, fudgy brownies. It’s all hot off the stove or fresh out of the oven, purposely crafted to warm body and soul.
A bright, busy kitchen on a bitter-cold, moonless night is one of life’s timeless treasures, a hearth laid against the howling wind and a welcome to any traveler on the road of life. Winter brings out the best of us; it’s a season of giving and sharing, a chance to make amends and toast new friends with a mug of spicy cider or hot buttered rum.
So please, Mother Nature, bring back Winter. I’m not quite ready yet for fresh strawberries and watercress salad and chilled ahi tuna and cucumber gimlets — we’ll get to those when the moment is hot and the sun beats down on our necks. Instead, to every season turn. There’s a time for every purpose, every taste, under Heaven.