When good food stops you in your tracks

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By: Rachel Shenk

Rachel Shenk/La Bonne Vie

Have you ever been stopped in your tracks by something? I am not talking about a bad thing, but rather a good thing.

I remember many years ago, hearing “The Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits while sitting at a bar in Barcelona, Spain. As soon as the song hit my ear drums, I interrupted the conversation I was having with my friend and asked the bartender, “What song is this? What band is that?”

I had never heard anything quite like it and later, I found out that my husband-to-be, living in Goshen at the time, had stopped along the side of the road when he heard that song.

In the same vein, a couple of years ago, when I was visiting the Musée d’Orsay in Paris with Jim and my daughter, I entered a room full of Camille Pissaro paintings.

As I walked up to a large canvas in the middle of the wall, I started crying and I could not stop. The scene before me of a woods in autumn instantly took me back to my childhood and the woods behind the château where we lived. I could smell the leaves, I could hear them rustle, I could feel the dampness in the air and the mood. That painting encompassed all the feelings I had forgotten. I was crying for joy and for loss.

Food … is that way. In one fell swoop, it stops us.

Most recently, at the bakery, we were serving an evening gathering. The evening was progressing well; people were happy, laughing, talking and having an all around good time. Then we served the dessert: a rich chocolate pudding.

The noise stopped, just like that. And for a few heavenly minutes, I stood, entranced by the sound of nothing more than a few spoon scrapes. For that short moment, everyone there was fully present to their food, pulled in by the goodness.

Food (and art and things that touch our senses) is that way. In one fell swoop, it stops us. That sweetness hits home; these textures burst on the tongue; this spice brings it all together.

It’s easy to eat without thinking, while I watch the television or read my emails, but sometimes, the food makes itself known. “Hey, I am here, and I am that good!”

My friend Wilma laughs about the sounds I make when I eat. I laugh back. If I enjoy my food, and you are sitting with me, you will know!

The next time you sit down to eat, be present to your food and let those taste buds free. For me, that’s one of the joys of the good life!

Here is the recipe for the chocolate pudding.

Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, high quality
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 14 T. butter
  • Real whipped cream for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Arrange six 1-cup canning jars in a large roasting pan.
  2. Melt the chocolate over a very low flame. Remove from heat.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the whole eggs and sugar until thick and pale, about 4 minutes.
  4. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the chocolate until smooth. Add slowly to the egg mixture and beat until thoroughly combined.
  5. Measure the pudding into the canning jars, a half a cup in each. Carefully fill the roasting pan with enough hot water to reach halfway up the chocolate in the jars.
  6. Bake the puddings for about 20 minutes, or until the edges are firm but the centers are still a bit soft. Remove the ramekins (canning jars) from the water bath and let the puddings cool completely.

Serve with whipped cream. And add nuts, if desired. These will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days.

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