Translation: Everything you wanted to know about cooking meat…but were afraid to ask.
Sounds pretty basic, right? How hard could it be to cook a piece of meat? You’d be surprised! Depending on the cut of meat, if you cook it too long, it gets dry. And if it just kisses the pan, it’s too tough. And at $7.95 for two pieces of cote d’agneau the size of silver dollars – believe me, if you mess up, it’s popcorn for dinner again. So I always strive for the Goldie Locks condition of just right when it comes my meat dish.
I started by pestering the staff at the Boucherie Charcuterie de Tours at the Atwater Market with the questions about timing and temperature. “Was that 8 minutes at 400 degrees? Or 4 minutes at 800 degrees?” Today they saw me coming – because after a brief explanation of why I should cook the bavette in a pan and not in the stove (it’s too small to bother heating the oven) – the little butcher behind the counter diplomatically asked, “Have you seen Yves’s cookbook on how to cook meat. It’s everything you’ll need to know about every piece of meat in this counter. You’ll be able to cook anything like an expert.”
Imagine being able to just point to something and bring it home without having to scribble crib notes on the price tags. I took some solace in the fact that if Yves had taken the time to produce this cookbook, obviously I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know her agneau from her émeu. The fact that it was written in French did little to deter me – I could still read the numbers. Besides, the little butcher assured me, “your French is very good.”
When it comes to trying new things, I have always been a sucker for two things:
1) a person’s unshakeable belief in my ability accomplish something – regardless of whether he knows me or not and,
2) a compliment about my intelligence.
As I stood there I realized this wasn’t about someone selling me something. It was about me buying into the prospect of adding a little domesticity to my life, the lack of which really hit home early this year when once again, returning from an overseas trip luggage in tow, I stopped in at the Mini Marche at the International Arrivals area at Montreal airport to pick up milk, yogurt, muffins, a couple of sandwiches, bananas, a package of cookies, and some juice. It occurred to me that I just might be the only woman in the world who does her grocery shopping at an airport.
So, I bought the cookbook.
When the cashier announced the total I looked worriedly from the beef, to the book and back to Yves. I had just made a sizeable investment in beef and a cookbook. Would I ever use it? What was I thinking?
I glanced longingly at the deli meat counter across the hallway. Quick and easy, I thought that was more my style. And to add a little foodie flair I could always throw in a little pâté de foie every now and then. Seeing my hesitation, Yves smiled and asked me if I would like him to sign my book?
Yes please! I said. At the very least, I thought I’d have signed copy.
Sous les couvercles des marmittes migotent de grandes passions.
Loosely translated his dedication means: Beneath the (pot) lids simmer grand passions. Good success!
Trust me this is no Julie/Julia Project. In the past, cooking was something of a chore and not something I enjoyed but Yves’ inscription got me to thinking how cooking was a lot like love – I was done with the quick and easy of fast food. Starting today, I wanted the slow and steady simmer of grand passion.