Sunday, February 14, 2010
Even though I refuse to support an industry that jacks up the price of flowers and chocolates for a holiday that was essentially exploited by card companies, there are some things I like about Valentine's Day. It's a celebration of love and not necessarily the love you have for your partner but for all the people in your life. One of the best ways to let people know that you love them is to cook for them so I decided to exploit my new Crock-Pot and prepare the tasty brisket. I made the meal for my friends and it turned out great. Slow cookers are amazing because they take most of the guesswork out and you get to have 7-9 hours of olfactory foreplay while the roast simmers and stews. By the time it's ready to eat, you've been salivating for most of the day and it's a lot like those cheesy romantic comedies that build up with the "will they, won't they." I thought about doing a slow clap during the feast, but it's not that kind of movie.
While preparing for this feast, I noticed something interesting. I live very close to one of the best meat shops in town and visiting them to pick up my meat, I felt intimidated. I don't know very much about cuts or quantity or even what certain types of meat cost and usually this is not a problem. When you go to a typical store to purchase food (not just meat, but anything) the people behind the counter usually only know slightly more than you and depending on the product you may know more than them. Going to check out and handing a leafy-green item to the cashier who says, "What is this?" is not the most comforting thing. I realize that not everyone who's working at the grocery store is training to be a horticulturalist, but when you go to a place where they actually know what they're doing, it's a little strange to encounter that kind of elevated customer service. I went to an honest-to-goodness meat shop and told them, "I'm making a brisket for 4-6 adults" and they said, "Here's the right cut and the right amount of meat, and here's some ideas for ways to prepare it." It's sort of like dating losers your whole life and all of a sudden Prince Charming comes along and offers to pay off your student loans. Like chivalry, good customer service is hard to find.
Love and food are so similar that sometimes it feels like the same thing. Valentine's Day may be used as an excuse to shower loved ones with teddy bears and over-priced roses, but I'd rather use it as an excuse to have a good meal with my favorite people. The food will never love you back, but the people always will.