Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Gas and Tuna

If I had a mother like Lydia Bastianich I would have been Italian.

Don't get me wrong.  I loved my mother, but she was a nice Irish Catholic girl and I think the Italians have the Irish beat in the cooking department.

All by way of saying I'm working on a second series of short stories and novellas (completely unconnected with Saigon 2B2F) that feature French and Italian peasant cooking as a leitmotif and as research I have been making a habit of watching Lydia B's cooking show on Create TV, which is the second tier PBS channel here in the North Country.  And I am here to tell you, the way she just cooked some tuna steaks has me shaken to the core.  In a good way.  The same way as if you ever saw Julius Erving play in person and, having done so, knew you'd never be the same again?

And I'm not talking Sixers-era Erving.  I'm talking ABA, striped balls and all.

The gist of the thing is that you take a couple of beautiful, inch-thick tuna steaks, toss some salt and olive oil on them, and throw them into the frying pan.  Actually you should gently lay them in -- throw is really a term of art in this situation, not a suggestion.

All of which is fine.  I've traveled the same road many times whilst cooking tuna steaks.  Except that I, at a certain point, have invariably flipped the steaks and finished cooking them on their second side.

Who wouldn't do that?
Exactly my point.  The answer is Lydia Bastianich.  Who is now, totally, if she wasn't already, my hero.

Instead of flipping them, she just cooks them a little longer on the original side, then serves the damned things.  Boom!  The result is a tuna steak that's beautifully caramelized on one side and bright, vivid, tuna-red on the other.  Spectacular.  Like Christmas.

She then places a handful of frisee salad dressed with lemon juice and olive oil on top of the steak and, honest to God, seeing this I think I am just going to burst into tears.  In a good way.

The basketball equivalent of this is dunking from the free-throw line.

What does any of this have to do with gas?

I've decided that if I ever find myself in the position of having to buy another stove, I'm not going to buy gas.  I'm going to buy electric, with a convection cook-top.  I am so sick of all the miscellaneous shit falling down in the little nooks and crannies of a gas range that I'm ready for one of those ones that appear to be nothing more than a sheet of black glass on the top.

Something along these lines, although this bad boy looks like it might be expensive ...

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