There are a few items which are requisites of civilized living – or at any rate, of civilized cooking and dining. I used to speculate as to what, if burgled, I would have to immediately replace. In my kitchen, it was my Cuisinart food processor. At that time, I didn’t have a Kitchenaid mixer, so that magnificent tool was not in the running. Now, I think I use it lots more. In short, I couldn’t do without it. But, then there are other, more humble things to consider ……
Ana was coming for dinner and a movie, and for once, I actually had the meal prepared on time. Just about the time she was due to arrive, I had everything ready - even Margaret and Tobias were fed and Margaret had gone potty – and I was about to open a bottle of wine. I turned, and somehow my sleeve got caught on the corkscrew. It fell onto the floor and into its three pieces, and went scuttling across the room. I found two of the parts, but could not find the third, and the most important, part. Margaret offered to help, but the two of us were flummoxed. It was nowhere. I got out a flashlight and looked under the stove and the refrigerator. Nothing! I looked in my “things drawer,” for a spare, but apparently, I only had the one. How can one possibly have dinner if one does not have a corkscrew? Ana arrived, and was horrified at our dilemma. We could not have wine with our meal without a corkscrew! We had a moment of silence, and both prayed to St. Anthony to help us find the corkscrew. Being a Catholic, and an Italian Catholic at that, he would certainly understand the absolute necessity of this little bit of plastic and metal. Sure enough, as soon as we had prayed, I looked under the refrigerator again, and there, among the dust mice, was the rogue corkscrew. We thanked St. A, and sat down to a very nice meal of barley soup (the first of the season,) and a pear salad – also the first of the season.
My little corkscrew is a bit of a miracle. It works every time, and pulls that cork straight out. I first read about it years ago in some cooking magazine (probably Gourmet,) and as I always had cork pulling troubles, I rushed out and got one. Given its plasticness and unimpressive looks, it was sort of expensive, but it was altogether worth it. As my father was a lover of both wine and gadgets, I got him one for a Christmas present that year. I could tell that, when he opened his gift, he was shocked that I had gotten him such a humble present. But when he opened the bottle of wine for dinner, his face lit up. “This is really nice,” he said. “I can see why you knew I would like it.” Vindicated by technology! This was probably thirty years ago, when hot technology consisted of such things. Incidentally, I got Pauline one too, and we both are still using the same ones all these years later. I am now thinking that maybe I had better invest in a backup, just to avert some future dinnertime disaster.
Very Basic Pear Salad
For the vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon rice vinegar,
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard,
3 tablespoons olive oil,
salt and pepper
For the salad,
2 ripe pears, peeled and sliced,
a nice bed of rocket,
a sprinkling of walnuts, and
a sprinkling of broken feta.
Thoroughly mix the vinaigrette ingredients. Artistically lay the pear slices on the bed of rocket, pour the vinaigrette over them, and sprinkle on the walnuts and feta. So simple! So yummy!