The onions were chopped, green chilies julienned and the chiffonade of cilantro lay in fine aromatic shreds in a bowl. I had prepped up everything for the dinner tonight but I was in no mood to have people over and spend the night in synthetic laughter and chatter. The last few months had been one of those few of the many rough rides life’s amusement park offers and I seemed to be hopping into more of those back to back again. Lost in thoughts of all the mental chaos that I was going through I put three pots of water for boiling to finish off the remaining preparations.
In the first one went the potatoes from which I planned to make bacon stuffed croquettes, in the second one I plopped in some eggs to turn them ‘devilled’ while in the third pot of boiling water I added some coffee. The coffee was to allow the caffeine to be my date tonight to make sure I look good or more so awake.
After allowing my thoughts to wander around, I drained the potatoes and the eggs and poured myself a hot cup of coffee. The sip of it, the richness of the espresso dark roast gave me friendly warmth from within. I moved to mash the potatoes and shell the eggs and as I stared at them I couldn’t contain my smile. As chefs we often speak to food, well not literally, but it’s like a silent exchange of textures, moods and techniques that go between the chef himself and the ingredient he is dealing with which results into the outcome of a dish. But seldom do ingredients teach us moralistic lessons that result into an epiphany more than a creation of a dish- or may be that day the caffeine was being scholastic than stimulating.
I looked at the potatoes and then the egg and to the coffee in my hand. All of them had gone through the same process for the same amount of time, that of the boiling water. Big bubbles of hot water washed over each of them battering every side for a few minutes till I turned the flame off. But each of them had come out with a different texture than the other- the potato had gone in hard and rough and had come out soft and mushy; I could easily mash it, squish it, blend it the way I wanted to. The egg had gone in with a hard shell but a soft fluid inside; the shell had protected it from the harshness of the water and it had come out nice and solid, no more the delicate fluid that it was before.
But the coffee had proved to be the most unique of them all. The crushed beans floated around freely in the boiling water, riding every wave and becoming one with the them. They were neither bound by any shell nor gone in rigid and hard but in fact changed the water too by releasing their best of aroma, flavor, color and taste. They had managed to create something new.
Each of them faced a similar situation but each of them reacted differently. It mattered not what happened around them, what mattered was what happened inside them and how they chose to act in those circumstances.
My head was still buzzing with all these thoughts in addition to all that was going on in my mind……I poured myself another cup of coffee and stared at a slightly unfamiliar skyline spread out across my window. The clouds were clear, the blossoms had bloomed highlighting that it was indeed spring. I took a long sip of the home brewed dark roast macchiato and wondered what ingredient I was.
*** Inspired from another similar storyline.