All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast. — John Gunther
I’ve never been a big late night eater — mostly because I get lazy when I get tired. But I’ve learned from commercials and cartoons to really disapprove of late night eating and snacking. Diets certainly don’t approve of meals after midnight, they say that it’s healthier to eat before nine or so. But I’ve been to Italy and Spain where a lot of eating doesn’t get started until the late evening, and they seem to be doing all right health-wise. In fact, a lot of the diets now want us to eat more like Europeans — but apparently not as late.
In our house growing up, peanut butter frequently disappeared in the middle of the night. It was always my father, coming up from his office downstairs after watching the news and the Late Show. He would eat peanut butter a spoonful at a time before going to bed. Nothing like a bit of late night protein I suppose. (Though baked goods would also disappear this same way and cookies and pies are hardly as healthy.)
For me late night eating has always been a thing associated with drinking. After closing down a wedding we end up going out to get a beer and a plate of cheese curds, and to toast the happy couple. Or, after a night at the pub somehow everyone ends up at my house for macaroni and cheese. Strange debates take place during late night meals when you have all had a little to drink and food is abundant.
Everyone seems to relax more with a late night snack, and the stranger parts of their natures come out. Friendships are a little stronger
and secrets are spread a little wider after those nights — people grow closer over greasy food and under dim lights.
What’s your favorite late night food memory?
Aaron Seery, known for his sarcasm and his near inability to be serious but also for his sometimes hospitality and his incredible woodworking which you can find here: https://www.facebook.com/aaron.seery.98?fref=ts
This week he tells us some about the pizza traditions of his family.
When I was a kid, I remember my parents making pizza dough, filling the entire dining room table with cantaloupe sized mounds of rising yeast. All day long the dough would sit and rise. Meanwhile, the chopping and dicing of cheeses, meat, and veggies and the creation of the homemade sauce would be taking place in the kitchen, in preparation of a fantastic gathering of friends and family. The smell was awesome, like being in an Irish little Italy.
My dad loved to cook and to serve people. Our house was the epicenter of hundreds of parties and other social jamborees. Although the pizza party hasn’t happened in that house for almost 25 years, I can still smell it today.
It’s quite simple really. All you need is the willingness to do it — and patience. Find a recipe you like for the dough, make sure your sauce is as simple as possible, and choose whatever toppings you want to put on it. Some dough will take three to four days to rise. Sauces may be only whole peeled tomatoes blended to a nice consistency or a concoction made of all your favorite ingredients. The two pizzas in my house that never failed were the pepperoni and black olive, and the sausage and green pepper. These family favorites always hit home runs.
Recently, my cousin Matthew designed and built a pizza oven in his backyard at one end of his porch. He made it out of fire-rated block and slate. He even created his own mortar that can withstand the oven’s heat. The oven reaches temperatures well above sixteen hundred degrees. It is equipped with a damper so air can vent properly. It really is a beautiful sight. We can cook a pie in at most 90 seconds, with little to no effort at all. It makes the three to four day wait for the dough that much more fun. He has also used the oven to cook Thanksgiving turkey and a roast. The oven is wood burning so he’s also saving money on gas and electricity.
The idea is to continue the Seery “cook and eat” parties that were a staple so long ago.
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world” –J.R.R. Tolkien
Tea is one of the food areas that I can be a bit snobby about at times.
I started working in an English tearoom when I was fifteen, shortly after my older sister became the manager (due somewhat to nepotism, I’m sure).
When I’m very particular then I want an unflavored black tea– not Earl Grey as I’m not a fan of the oil of bergamot. I want a healthy amount of milk and a very small amount of sugar. I want my teapot warmed first. And the tealeaves need to be in an infuser, not sitting at the bottom of the pot– they mustn’t over brew.
Traveling in Europe, New Zealand, and Australia was a tea drinkers paradise! A culture that understand a little break mid morning and mid afternoon to stop and have something warm to drink is the kind of culture I can appreciate. Add some delicious crackers with fresh tomatoes and cheese and I’m over the moon!
Even though I can be really snobby and particular about my tea sometimes, if I’m served a bag of Lipton with a splash of milk I can be completely happy.
My oldest sister and younger brother have both kept to coffee along with our parents. But my sister Kara, our cousin Jewel, and now our sister in law Tara, are all tea drinkers. It was nice to have something like tea to instantly bond me to our sister in law.
Recently the five of us girls took a trip to Ireland. Coffee is now all over the world, but there are some countries where tea will always win. We managed to find coffee for Erika on a regular basis but tea was certainly in abundance and we all enjoyed the comradery it encouraged.
Really though, tea is another area of food and drink that is more about the company for me than about the item itself. I’ll drink just about anything when it’s served with friends.
More recently my friend Alia and I have had tea and Doctor dates. We fry up a pound of bacon, Alia makes delicious popovers, or we have a hard boiled egg and sandwiches. She has two tea trays and a lot of adorable mis-matchy china and silver and we eat and drink it all while watching episodes of Doctor Who. It’s absolutely beautiful. It doesn’t take a lot of attention or a lot of effort to have a tea party everyone can enjoy.
Cooks get to put their hands on real stuff, not just keyboards and screens but fundamental things like plants and animals and fungi. They get to work with the primal elements, too, fire and water, earth and air, using them- mastering them!- to perform their tasty alchemies. How many of us still do that kind of work that engages us in a dialogue with the material world that concludes- assuming the chicken Kiev doesn’t prematurely leak or the souffle doesn’t collapse- with such a gratifying and delicious sense of closure? –Michael Pollan