Meatballs & Golf Balls
Have you ever been curious about the interior construction of a golf ball? Back in the 1970's the puzzle overwhelmed me and I cut one open. I don't remember what brand it was, but inside, just under the cover, was a beautiful orb of precision wound rubber bands. Damn, I thought to myself, what genius invented this? No wonder they could be propelled hundreds of yards. Today's technology, I am certain, is quite different.
Fast forward ― 50 years later. I always make meatballs and forever am chasing the best flavor and texture. Every time I make them, it's a little tweak here, a little there, always good, but I look forward to the next time and next calibration. Perhaps that elusive quantum leap will come ― that abrupt transition (as of an electron, an atom, or a molecule) from one discrete energy (flavor) state to another.
I have been yearning for some meatballs in a nice rich tomato sauce for some time now, but have never been motivated enough to cook up a storm. In my lazy mental state, I reason the sauce would be easy, but (for now) the meatballs too complex.
Let me make this clear, I shop at the Jewel food store only if under great duress.
Now, while approaching the dairy department for some needed milk, I passed the meat section and saw what I thought were beautifully formed meatballs. Keep moving, I said. That is not real food.
I turned around to see if anyone was looking at me. No one was. I quickly picked up the package of Italian style meatballs. They looked fresh, nicely colored, firm, yet supple. The ingredients told me nothing, of course. Still, no one was looking, so I put them in my cart. I would have to deal with the shame only at the check-out counter. I'll get through this, I said.
Once home, nothing held me back. On went a pot of salt water for the Bucatini. I quickly prepared a nice red sauce and within gently cooked the Abruzzese meatballs. I forgot to mention that the spices were aromatic and so delightful. My brain was in the cumulus clouds with expectations.
All was ready to go. I topped the dish with some fake parmesan and approached a meatball with the side of my fork. Oh, my. I immediately knew this was going to be an experience I would never forget. What was I thinking … ?!
The meatball was as hard as the aforementioned golf ball. The fork was not able to make a dent. It had to be speared. Even that was an Olympian event! As I took a bite, my teeth met their prey. This was going to be a chew!
Up and down, up and down my jaw flew as I tried to dent the rubber ball. The walls of my mouth were the new court of American handball. Thank the gods for my incisors. I only had two more to go. Had I bounced one on the floor, without question it would have hit the ceiling, not once, but twice.
I should have known better. If it does not hang on a tree, grow in the ground, stand on hoof or come from your own kitchen…don't buy it. But, at the age of 72 one should still and always have hope for humankind.
Anyway … Talk to you later.
Christoph ― The Bourgeois Chef ™
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