The Art Historian Makes Dinner
When the paintbrush fails, cooking proves itself to be a fulfilling creative outlet. Conclusively, cooking is more satisfying than painting; endless variety of media can be employed and multiple senses stimulated. A good dish contains the same essential elements of a good painting; it requires composition, color, balance and creativity. Cooking as an art form is inherently ephemeral, it changes with the season, compositions decay or are consumed. It is simultaneously concrete and abstract.
Human interaction with art can be an encountered intimately and what could be more intimate than the food we consume? If it is true what they say, and we are what we eat, than what could be a better source of creativity than to eat art?
Today I let my neighborhood verduleria (fruit stand) inspire me. On a long walk home, enjoying the city from the sidewalk, I was drawn to a new verduleria a few blocks from my house. It was the most spotless fruit stand I’d ever seen. The fresh and brightly colored produce was displayed pristinely. I was drawn to the bright green chives, a shiny tomato, a yellow maracuya (passionfruit). I felt inspired to create.
Michelangelo said he only worked when divinely inspired and I reflect on that often during my own ‘creative processes’, be they writing or cooking.
Writing ‘from my heart’ when inspired and honest yields far more satisfying results than words written under pressure or obligation. Oftentimes I cannot bring myself to finish anything that has not been persuaded by a creative force larger than myself . When I cook I seem to operate in the same way. Recipes followed usually end in disappointment. When I follow my intuition, my inspiration and the ingredients, things turn out better.
This is one of those dishes. Simplistic, but inspired nonetheless.
- Ricotta Cheese
- Ciboulette (Chives)
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Fresh tomato
- Salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, chimichurri, whatever
- Grated Parmesan
- Pita Bread
- Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot waiter until they become soft, then dice.
- Chop the garlic and chives very finely.
- Mix the ricotta, cheese, garlic, chives and tomatoes together. Add spices and salt. I really like this mineral salt that I get at Esquina de los Flores. It tastes the best.
- Slice your tomatoes and zucchini (and whatever other vegetables inspire you) thinly.
- On a pita bread, spread your ricotta mixture, and then arrange your veggie slices.
- Sprinkle with spices and grated parmesan on top. That’s the best part.
- Put it in the oven and bake it until it is finished. It will tell you when it’s ready. You can’t rush the creative process.