Fortune Cookie Friday: A Taste for Patience
We are a fast-paced culture—food, money, information, we want it now. If we live in the south, we may take a more relaxed approached, but compared to previous generations, we still expect quick results.
This idea of immediate gratification would make sense if we had the shorter lifespan of someone from a pre-modern era. If we only lived an average of 30 years, we would want to get as much done as possible and fast.
Technology enables us to perform many tasks incredibly faster than in the past. Travel went from horse and cart to automobile and jet planes. Communication went from written missives by horse to emails and text messaging.
There are moments when every minute counts, such as saving a life or extinguishing a burning building, but not everything in our lives requires speed. Some things are better if we learn to have a little patience and wait for the results.
Whenever I think about waiting for results, my mind wanders to foods. Oh, there are some tasty foods that we can prepare fast, but there are also foods that require a little more time than stir fry veggies or grilled shrimp kabobs.
My grandmother taught me how to make lasagna—traditional style from scratch. The recipe calls for the homemade meat sauce and fresh pasta. I usually make the sauce one day and the pasta the next. After I have my lasagna noodles rolled through a pasta machine, I assemble the layered dish and bake it in the oven. The house smells scrumptious for two days while I cook, and even longer if we have leftovers.
A dish like a lasagna can take a while to prepare because of the multiple steps, but some foods take their time cooking. My husband enjoys smoking beef brisket, and it can take 8 to 12 hours, depending on the size of the brisket.
Smoking meats can be tedious since you can’t just throw it on the smoker and go shopping like you could with a crockpot meal. You need to tend the meat and the fire regularly. Cooking like this is especially challenging since your mouth waters while you wait. It is worth the wait, though. When prepared properly, the tender, juicy, smoke-infused meat doesn’t even require bar-b-cue sauce. In case you were wondering, just like with the lasagna, the house will smell of brisket for multiple days.
If you think your patience might wane with preparing some of these foods, then you may not want to become a cheese maker. Cheeses come in many varieties, and some soft kinds are ready in a week or two. But if you want an excellent Gouda or Cheddar, you will have to let it ripen 5-10 years. I hope you aren’t hungry.
We can’t forget the time it takes to create the ingredients we use in our dishes. Tomatoes, wheat, and cows don’t sprout from the ground in an instant. We have to wait for them to grow and mature. There is a lot of work involved in producing the flavors that we savor.
The patience needed in creating these foods is almost a skill of its own. It is best to find ways to pass the time or make the task more enjoyable. I find that music helps to soothe the savage impatient cook, and it is even better with good company. With a little patience, that good company can share in my results.