Socrates claimed to have been pushed toward the arts and a life of philosophizing at the beckoning of a reoccurring dream, urging him to pursue his craft and perfect it. Pacifying these unrelenting dreams he paved the way for future philosophers and intellectuals alike. Being the moral and ethical powerhouse that he was, he opposed the popular, skewed ideologies in favor of his own which eventually got his ass tried for heresy and executed, but blame him for being passionless you cannot. I, too, have fallen into the hands of a relentless reoccurring dream which played out in such detailed, vivid sequence it’s hard to tell whether it was, in fact, a dream or if I’d slipped into some magnificent accidental acid trip.
Each night I’d find myself in the same place as the previous: working in a large industrial kitchen composing intricate recipes, orchestrating cutting-edge kitchen equipment to whip, mix and knead my concoctions to perfection and feverishly taking notes on each process. I would be in the middle of folding stiff, shimmery whipped egg whites into rich chocolate soufflés or writing a reminder to never, ever experiment with parsnips again before I was sucked back through the looking glass by a nefarious alarm clock that smugly spit me back out to reality where a monotonous workday awaited. I didn’t know what my exact job was in these dreams, but I was cooking and writing and was noticeably thrilled to be doing so.
I started to resent the me in my dreams. While he braised and sauteed, I was left returning to the same office to perform the same duties each day for the foreseeable future which seemed only marginally more appealing than consuming naga jolokia peppers rectally. Not that I disliked my job, but I felt a nagging pull in a direction opposite to which I was moving. Alas, there are bills to pay and people to appease and frivolous aspirations rarely have a place in the world where responsibilities reign supreme, it would seem. But these dreams would not let up, and if you dangle a treat in front of a hungry dog long enough, eventually he’ll lunge.
So in an act of calculated hedonism, I made the decision to give up the position I’d worked so hard for, my private office, my good pay and comfortable lifestyle I’ve come to know so well and gave my notice at work. In less than a month I will be embarking on a three-month-long study of cookery through Europe in the culinary epicenter of three of the most arguably food-centric countries in the world: Madrid, Spain; Bologna, Italy; and Paris, France. For three years I’ve obsessed over the idea of running off to Europe and bathe in the techniques of authentic tapas, pastas and confit, and for three years I’ve renouncing these ideas as a largely selfish bougie aspiration and, above all else, irrefutably impossible. But the funny (if not devastatingly irritating) thing about a passionate interest is it’s a persistent beast and rational reasoning does little, if anything at all, to quell its hunger.
I began this blog less than a year ago as a way to focus my non-working hours on a growing interest for food and writing, escaping from the long hours spent at the office feeling robotic and indifferent. 10 hours a day would be executed on autopilot with each day having no real discernible difference from the previous, all of them blending into one another to form a mass of memory lacking any real sequential order or significance, and my light at the end would be my blog, my child. My poor neglected child. Because of the hours spent at the office, my zeal for cooking and writing was limited to an hour or two here and there, and stifling passion tends to make one prone to irritability and majestic bouts of melancholy I’ve found.
For the most part I actually really liked my job; it was challenging and I was lucky to have the position I did. I was also successful at it, but it’s important to note that there’s a glaring difference between being successful and being truly satisfied, and to substitute the latter for the former comes at much too great a cost.
With this major shift in trajectory comes with its own set of garden-variety anxieties, of course; a state I’ve become all too familiar with, those which have kept me from moving forward with this plan a long time ago: what if I fail, what if I’m not good enough, what if I’m wasting my time? Chafing questions I’ve attempted to ease with my own soothing mantra: you won’t, you are, and you’re not. Anxiety is a malicious foe disguised as a well-meaning friend who will constantly confuse “what if” for “what will be” and nobody needs that kind of buzz-killing tool spoiling the party.
So there you have it. In turning my cheek to professional normalcy, I’m instead opting to listen to the beckoning of my own dreams and throwing all caution to the wind thanks to the simple reasoning of one minor question: what would Socrates do? Besides get poisoned, I mean. And even though I love to cook, I don’t really know if I want to work in food for the rest of my life, but sometimes you have to try on a few shoes before you find the right one. Jesus, did I really make a shoe metaphor? Who am I?
Anyway, I’m going to take the plunge, and you’d better believe I’ll be documenting each and every step along the way.
I know this doesn’t have anything to do with the post, but some people come here not for my blubbery prose, but for the food. This one’s for you, indifferent reader:
[print_this]Recipe: Caprese Ravioli
Preparation time: 25 minute(s)
Cooking time: 5 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
- 1 1/4 cup bread flour, plus extra for kneading
- 2 whole eggs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
- 6 oz mozzarella cheese
- 15-20 small to medium sized basil leaves
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 sun dried tomatoes stored in olive oil, drained and chopped
- 5-6 basil leaves, chopped
- To prepare the pasta dough, add bread flour, eggs, salt and tomato paste to a large food processor. Turn on and continue to process until the dough forms a ball.
- Place dough onto a well-floured surface and knead, adding dough as needed, until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky. If the dough becomes too dry from adding too much flour, wet your hands slightly and rework the dough.
- Split dough in half; wrap one half of the dough in plastic wrap while working with the other ball of dough.
- Roll one ball out onto a well-floured surface and place a small ball of mozzarella wrapped in a basil leaf (½ inch to 1 inch in size depending upon size of ravioli) about 2 inches apart from each other on the rolled out dough.
- Roll out other ball of dough to about the same size as the other rolled out dough, if not a bit larger, and place over the dough and mozzarella. Using your fingers, push gently around the dough covering the mozzarella being sure to remove as much air from the center as possible.
- Cut out shapes as desired, cover prepared ravioli lightly in flour and set aside.
- Heat a large pot of salted water over high until just boiling and add the ravioli. Reduce heat to medium, not allowing the water to boil, and cook until the ravioli rises to the surface. Remove with a slatted spoon and place into a large bowl, and immediately toss lightly with the olive oil.
- Sprinkle individual dishes with chopped basil and sun dried tomatoes and serve hot.
Similar Recipes by Other Bloggers:
- Spinach Tomato Pasta by Eat Yourself Skinny
- Caprese Margarita by Creative Culinary
- Homemade Burrata by Salty Seattle