lenten journal: thirty-seven times


    Abel spent the afternoon
    prepping the vegetable plate:
    slicing shiitakes and scallions,
    reducing the risotto, and
    spreading the mixture on
    sheet pans to let it cool.
    Then he enlisted me to make
    the rice balls and roll them
    in Japanese breadcrumbs.
    He cut sweet potatoes,
    blanched greens, and
    roasted garlic to make
    the cream sauce.

    The thirty-seven people
    who ordered the dish were
    offered both a visual and
    culinary treat: the sauté
    of spinach and sweets
    on one side of the plate;
    the small swatch of sauce
    creating a bed for the three
    golden crusted arancini;
    the last ladle of cream
    draped across the top,
    with a sprinkle of scallions.

    But only those relegated to
    the kitchen were fortunate
    enough to see how tenderly
    Abel stacked the sauté;
    how he nestled the small orbs
    on their side of the plate as
    though they were as fragile
    as they were flavorful;
    and the affection with which
    he baptized them with the
    puree of garlic and goat cheese;
    the smile that sent the dish
    to the diners. Thirty-seven times.



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