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Are you getting sick of putting shit on a stove? I am getting a little sick of putting shit on a stove.
Don’t get me wrong—dinnertime is my favorite time of day. I pour myself a dollop (just a dollop!) of tequila and splash in some juice of a Meyer lemon, then ask Alexa to play jazz music as I roll up my sleeves and get ready to confront the quarantine kitchen. Then we decide in tandem what the citizens of Centre Street (i.e. my family) will eat for dinner. Last night, we had turkey meatballs and sauteed string beans that I drenched in tomato basil sauce. Madeline and Laura thought they were green noodles, which was a miracle. The night before, we had Banza pasta alla Norma with roasted eggplant cubes and everything. While Abie did not earn the gift of melted mozzarella cheese in his grain-and-dairy-free dish, Madeline and Laura did. I had the pasta with sun-dried tomatoes in oil. They were sitting in my fridge and I thought: Use them. Scintillating, right?
Tonight I was thinking about grilling some radicchio and zucchini to match a homemade putanesca sauce that I planned to toss over chicken until I remembered that I’m not an Italian restaurant, you don’t “toss” sauce over food and I have no idea how the fuck to make a putanesca sauce, much less what is in one, so!, instead, I will artfully arrange ingredients on toast.
I have been doing this most mornings for my kids and self: toasting Ezekiel bread and then covering it in avocado, almond butter, tahini, or something else and arranging scenes with: tomatoes, eggs, bananas, smoked salmon, or kimchi on top of the paste. I don’t know why it just occurred to me that the paste is like glue, the toast is like an easel and the toppings are the artifacts I affix to my mixed media installations, but there it is. There you go.
At a minimum, they are a good excuse to use what is leftover from The Great Bread Bake of 2020 as a vehicle for something greater. Maybe you’re sick, for example, of seeing rotund loaves coddled in towels fresh off the press. Maybe you’d rather see:
A tableau of food groups
How thin you can slice a cucumber, and a bed of sheer onions
This slideshow of options
Or a landscape.
Since the time of this writing, I have executed three different toast types, which you can consider recipes if you’d like but the great thing about this genre of food preparation is that the instructions aren’t stringent. You kind of just have to ask yourself: what flavors do I like to eat together? And then look inside yourself (fridge and pantry), see what you have and combine. It’s not so different from getting dressed, but here are the formulas, in case you need a thought starter or three:
Cinnamon raisin Ezekiel English muffin (open face) + almond butter + lemon saffron jam (or, wtvr, any jam you have, but seriously consider trying Brins lemon saffron jam) + left over sweet potato mash from the night before and a faint dash of cinnamon for art’s sake =
One slice of Mestemacher pumpernickel bread + tahini + juice of a quarter lemon + paltry bed of arugula + smoked salmon + another squeeze of another quarter lemon + tellicherry peppercorn sprinkling (or capers, whatever) =
A good pass at Tahini toast.
And when all else fails, there is always taramasalata.
Graphics by Lorenza Centi.