Bacon-wrapped shrimp: Ron Swanson’s favorite food wrapped around his third-favorite food.
(Ed: I’m going to write about Parks and Recreation and make some references to events that unfolded in this most recent season, but there are are no spoilers about the actual finale here as I wrote this prior to it being aired.)
To thoroughly transpose a line from Shakespeare, I come not to bury Parks and Recreation, but to praise it. After all, It was truly the little sitcom that could–much like its spiritual predecessor, it started out with a shaky and short first season and then quickly found its footing with its second–but for whatever reason it never was able to break out to a huge audience despite being one of the smartest and funniest comedies on TV. To be an ardent fan meant knowing the show was constantly on the brink of cancellation year after year (with few exceptions), so while I’m annoyed that NBC has decided to burn off this final season by airing episodes back-to-back for seven weeks, I’m grateful that the series was able to make it to 125 episodes in the first place.
There are so many things to love about this show, but I think what may stay with me the most is that no other show, certainly in recent memory, used food to comedic effect better than Parks.* (30 Rock came close with its night cheese and a dogs taking steaks and Cheesy Blasters, though.) Whether it was grandiose set pieces like the Snake-Juice-fueled disaster from “The Fight” to the simple act of Tom Haverford singing “this is how you eat it” before diving into a hot pepper, food so often served as a springboard for fantastic comedic moments but also showed that it could forge bonds between even the most unlikeliest of people. In a recent interview Michael Schur noted that food (and specifically breakfast food) was a way for Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson specifically to come to an accord despite deeply different political viewpoints:
They are such different people, and we independently arrived at Leslie + waffles and Ron + bacon, so suddenly it seemed like a point of overlap. I always thought of it as hopeful. There is an old trick of diplomacy, where if you have two warring factions who agree to sit down at a table, you first choose something very simple and uncontroversial that they can agree on. You say, “What does everyone want to drink, water or motor oil?” When they all say water, you have begun the session with a point of mutual agreement. For Leslie and Ron, a 19th-century libertarian and a 21st-century progressive, that thing is breakfast food.
Frisee Aux Lardons with Poached Eggs and Gorgonzola
Another day, and more eggs. Only this time they are in a salad, and they are far more pleasing to look at because I took this photo last June when we were enjoying the height of natural light. (Oh natural light, how I miss you.)
But of course, this proves the eternal truth that just because a salad is called such a thing, there is no guarantee that it’s going to be rabbit food, given that friseé is one of those greens that isn’t the most nutritionally dense (at least compared to the ubiquitous kale) and it’s basically coddling a wonderful combination of Gorgonzola, bacon bits, and poached eggs–nary a spa food in the lot save for the greens. But that’s kind of what makes it wonderful: it strikes the right balance between heavy and light that leaves you satisfied without feeling like you have a gut full of food, and it’s also a one-course meal that can come together relatively quickly if your multitasking skills are in peak condition. (Mine vary by how tired I am when I get home from work, but I can still pull this together in about 20 minutes.)
Roncal-stuffed piquilo peppers
Michael didn’t really believe me, I think, when I first mentioned that a storm was coming this weekend (and said storm has since blanketed the Northeast with a sizable amount of snow), but he willingly went along with my plan to stay in on Friday and Saturday and cook anyway. He balked a bit when I came home Thursday night laden with bags of provisions–likely thinking I was going overboard–but lo and behold, my instinct to stock up was right on the nose. That I was also able to get in and out of Fairway despite the fuller-than-usual parking lot was simply a bonus.
So while the snow fell and the wind howled on Friday night, we opened up a bottle of prosecco and got to work on a tapas spread. The one you see above was a bit of a punt. A delicious, delicious, punt.
Poached egg sandwich with gorgonzola, frisee, and bacon, from overhead.
I’m not a big fan of breakfast-for-dinner because, well, we’re not big make-at-home breakfast people. Special occasions like long weekends or holidays tend to be the exception and not the rule, as regular weekends we’ll have some yogurt and maybe some eggs if the mood strikes Michael. It’s not that I have anything against breakfast food, but we don’t really have room for a waffle-maker, and pancakes just aren’t as good, and in our household bacon is an anytime snack.
So the sandwich pictured above, found in the breakfast sandwich chapter of ‘wichcraft, is about as close to breakfast-for-dinner as we can muster, and only once or twice a month at most. Not because it’s not easy to make–it’s my go-to if I need something fast on a night Michael’s working out and I need to make dinner in a hurry–but because it’s not really the healthiest thing we eat.
Don’t let that bed of frisee fool you. Read More
Welp. I didn’t realize how long it’s been since I hit “publish” on this blog until I saw that my last update was in May. Early May. I can offer no good explanation for this–I know when this kind of extended silence happens elsewhere in the blogosphere, it’s usually due to news of great import, but I can assure you that is not the case here at all. Between the new job, various summer outings, visitors, and finally getting into Game of Thrones, the summer has been full so far. Read More
Tomato Pie with Jumbo Scallions and Bacon
I hope the holiday season gave you all time to be still and reflect on the year as it passed perhaps via most golden and perfect of all meditation opportunities, fooling around in your kitchen with no pressing need to generate a large or timely meal, maybe utilizing a night or two in that golden week between Christmas and NYE. If you did not have this opportunity, I guess you missed out.
By the end of it all, even I had had enough. Lasagna and Thanksgiving Food Dinner II with the families, a standing rib roast for the two of us, fried chicken on NYE and a sundry of interspersed meals inspired by greats like Tom Colicchio and David Chang. You might think I’d give up after this feastish onslaught and say “meh” on this particular evening, but the last night before the return to work, waking up early and wrestling I-95 called for something delicious, if not seasonal. E suggested making some pizzas and that felt perfect. Read More
Momofuku's chicken and egg
Neither Michael nor I said the actual words over the course of the last week of 2011, but in retrospect it was pretty clear we were both missing our tiny kitchen after four days of holiday celebrating with not much opportunity to get behind the stove. Day two of our mini-we-miss-New-York-Week (subtitle: the week we bounced back and forth between Tom Colicchio and David Chang’s cookbooks) was another “let’s take on a Serious Project!” day–although while this is a dish that takes some time to make, with a little planning I could see us enjoying this on a random weekday evening. It was also a great opportunity to break in one of our Christmas presents (although that is a very poor choice of words given what it is): Read More