How does one ever recover from the mirrors in Lulu Lemon dressing room? The triplicate ones, in extremely close quarters, that show not only your hair’s split ends but also every weird detail of your posture and the strange way that your jeans are riding up your hips?
My visit to Lulu Lemon with my 8th grade daughter, combined with the fact that I just finished reading Being Mortal, was enough to send me into major depression. Atul Gawande’s book is important and indispensable but why did I choose to read it while my college daughters were still on break? What a fun sucker! There is a fine art to attempting to make the perfect mocha and spend time together while trying one’s best not to mope around during the post-Christmas, post-flu and cold season….
Gawande’s message is that we do not face death in our culture, and that this denial causes unforgivable harm on both personal and societal levels. Anyone who has had a parent die from cancer may know this to be true. I lost my father three years ago to pancreatic cancer. 2014. I keep counting back the years.
1-2-3 years ago.
If I had listened to Gawande then, I might have had the prescience and fortitude to ask my father, “What are your hopes and your desires?” so that I could have helped him to meet them as best as I could.
And yet, we’re busy trying to roll a pair of black tights off our legs in a tiny dressing room while listening to “I want to thank you for letting me by Mice Elf again” at high decibels while perceiving our backs from the first time from very strange angles.
Gawande points out that most of us only deal with this subject ONCE but that medical doctors/workers who have experience on the subject of mortality (read: oncologists/surgeons) owe it to people to discuss what’s gone wrong with the process. It can be as simple as asking the right, versus the wrong, questions.
That’s another essay, but for now, I can say that after my 8th grader, Ally, and I, bought our tights and escaped Lulu Lemon’s bizarre, soul-killing, unforgiving mirror jungle, we decided to cure our ails by cooking.
For Christmas, I asked for David Lebovitz’s cookbooks. I’ve always been a reader/admirer. The last two times we went to Paris, we visited, upon his recommendation, Breizh Cafe, where they make amazing crepes.
I had taken a cooking class from him years ago at Central Market. He’s super cocky and funny. I still remember the upside down chocolate chip banana bread he taught us to make, which I don’t make, because I’d be the only one eating it in my house. Lebovitz told us about the ex-pat community in Paris. Back then, he was friends with David Sedaris, who was also in France, which gave him major bonus points in my mind. I could see how their humor aligned then, and I can see it now by reading his cookbook. It’s funny, but even better, it’s like being in company of a soulmate, someone who procures great joy from cooking.
We scoured his cookbook for recipes that we already had the ingredients for (too tired to shop). This turned out to be the Arugula, Parmesan and Bacon Soufflé, which we turned into the Spinach, Random Cheese, and Prosciutto Soufflé. Because: over Christmas/New Year’s, we had gotten this amazing cheese tray from Over the Moon in Telluride, and we still had tons left over.
For dessert, we made Chocolate Racines Cake. I opened a bottle of rose, and we turned on one of Ally’s good Spotify playlists, and suddenly, everything seemed right with the world again. I had gone to a funeral that Saturday. And I’m going to die someday, sure, but until then, let’s open that bag of chocolate chips.
Bacon, Spinach, and Cheese Soufflé
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1 1/2 c. prosciutto or bacon, cooked and chopped
8 oz. arugula (or spinach)
1 c. parmesan cheese
1 c. milk
3 T. butter
1 1/2 c. grated Comte or Gruyere cheese
4 large egg yolks
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
5 large egg whites
freshly ground black pepper
Butter a souffle pan and then coat with grated parmesan. Use the remaining parmesan in the souffle mixture.
Separate the egg yolks from whites. Whip the egg whites until stiff. Saute the spinach, then drain and chop it.
Put the milk in a small saucepan to warm. Melt the butter in another small saucepan. Add the flour to the butter and heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in the milk slowly and get rid of the lumps. Remove the mixture from heat. Add the seasoning, half of the cheese, and then the egg yolks. Add the spinach and bacon. Fold in 1/2 of the egg whites. Then fold in the rest of the egg whites and remaining cheeses. Don’t overmix. Put mixture into soufflé pan and cook for 40 minutes. Serve immediately with a mixed green salad.