My chef Tieta and I have two completely different approaches in the kitchen. She makes me look into a world divided into two kinds of cooking people: the casseroles and the others. Interesting, isn’t it? Here I am trying to explain my theory.
Realizing this dichotomy was important for me. From there I could understand one of the sources of conflict between my mother and I. She was a casserole, a truly ratatouille-mother. If I can remember she could put together a good stew but in general they were phew. And ew.
She couldn’t accept my distaste for casseroles. I was already adolescent and still leaving the house for school empty stomach and tearful. I was saved from starving by square thick chocolates bars I could buy in a coffee shop before the school bus arrived.
Here I have to elaborate. In reality I see three kind of cooking people (also eating people because in the end we only cook what we like to eat): casseroles, pastries and the grillers. I decided to put the last two together because they get along pretty well, I think.
All this to tell you that I’ve been haunted by Tieta’s casseroles, as I was by my mother’s. Now that she is away on holidays, cooking is casserole free. I like salads, pastas, steaming and grilling. Now and then I like to sign a roast. Soups have something of magical. Maybe they are my version of casseroles. I put together assorted stuff and in the end I get the clean unique taste of a successful mélange. I guess it’s almost the same with casseroles, but the final product is not so clean in terms of palatability. I like and I cook good curries, though I am not crazy about them. They are, in my opinion, “disguised casseroles”. I have a preference for curries with a coconut zest.
After so many words, you are going to be surprised with the simplicity of the chicken soup I usually prepare for colds or fragile stomachs. Put together in a large cooking pan: a good deal of boiling water, salt, one chicken cleaned of skin and all that you don’t want to have in your soup bowl, half to one cup of good white rice, a garlic glove, a large onion (both finely chopped) and an entire harvest of mint (I am just kidding). Let it boil together until chicken and rice are perfectly cooked. Reserve the cooked chicken and when cold cut clean parts of it into very small pieces and add them to the soup. Serve with pepper and fresh mint leaves. You will have a good example of what I call clean taste.