I’d arrived at the grocery store – the third grocery store within a half hour – looking for quail. You know quail. It’s a small bird. It’s a small bird that is hunted for its small meat for no real reason other than people can eat it, so we do. Except for those of us living in Tampa, because nobody knows what a quail even is.
My initial vision for this dish was a tiny quail on a soft bed of wild rice, roasted with a spicy lime quail egg mayo. The poultry lady at the store looked confused and offered up her assistance, “so…you mean you want a Cornish hen?”
I was exhausted. After running around town and coming up empty, I the bitter sense of defeat lingered over my head like an Acme anvil attached to an unthreaded rope. I let out an exasperated sigh that may have come off as rude, which I recognized immediately, and offered up a smile to offset the sigh before throwing my hands in the air and saying, “ok, lady! Take me to your Cornish hens!”
After the events of this previous week, I’ve started reassessing my stance on pumpkin-flavored things. It was last Monday night that my car was obliterated by an angry drunk with a rap sheet the length of my forearm when I had a pumpkin spiced latte, but I thought little of the correlation.
It wasn’t until Thursday that a single lump of pumpkin gnocchi smothered in a viscous maple beurre blanc found itself lodged in my throat with nobody around to help but the cat, who looked neither concerned nor impressed, that I caught on: Pumpkin means danger.
But thinking of those children starving in various multisyllabic faraway countries, whom I’ve dubiously been told would be happy to eat a variety of oddly-prepared, ill-fated foods I rejected growing up, I side-eyed my remaining pumpkin puree and sighed. Stuck halfway between duty and hazard, I broke out the puree, which of course meant only one thing: I was probably going to catch dysentery.
Except I instead got risotto.