Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ode to Chipped Bowls and other Stoneware

Ode to A (chipped) Blue Bowl
I know this might seem really silly, in these days of economic uncertainty, political fighting and out of control stress. But today, in the midst of all this, I'm spending a lot of brain space on my stoneware, or more specifically on my chipped stoneware. Am I alone in having a really difficult time in letting go of a chipped cup, plate or bowl? I do.

The bowl in the above picture has been sitting on our kitchen counter for two weeks, ever since I noticed that the chip was now growing into a crack. The chip has been there for quite some time and despite what my domestic goddess-wannabee side tells me, I just haven't been able to part with it. I love this bowl, which has held countless delicious meals, such as my beloved partner's killer Putanesca sauce long adapted from a friend, or a steaming bowl of chicken soup. It's the kind of bowl you hold in your hand because it stays warm, with a perfect shape and concavity. It's the kind of bowl to display because the color is the deepest shade of blue I've ever dreamt of swimming in.

The bowl is a simple one, with no brand stamped on the underside. In fact, I don't even remember buying it. The bowl probably belongs to a friend from a long ago dinner party from when we used to have dinner parties that lasted until early morning. It might have held a fig and olive tampenade, since it is not big enough to hold a full meal.

I've let go of my favorite coffee mugs, which my family will tell you I'm very particular about. They must be large, wide mouth and able to go into the microwave without burning my hand. I let go of the black, blue and white geometric cup that was part of a stunning set of dishes bought for a Valentine's Day when money was low. I still get to enjoy the pattern with the plates, so the letting go was easier with that one. I've lost track of how many chipped cups that now sit in the garage, neither of us able to part with them. How many of them soothed sleepless nights with teething babies? How many of them represented warmth and home on early winter mornings when I pull myself out of bed while the rest of the house stays asleep?

Much is made these days of the food we eat. Local, organic, seasonal, artisan. Yes, it is all important, but until today, I've thought little on the role our stoneware plays in bringing it all together to represent home, family, warmth and love.

I love this bowl and while I know it can't hold food any longer, I just can't part with it. The wishful craftsperson says to me, smash it and use it for that much thought about mosaic backsplash! But I'm not ready to shatter the perfect circle-ness of it, not just yet.

So to honor this perfect blue bowl, I'd like to offer up that Puttanesca sauce recipe that filled it (and my stomach) to the brim so many lovely nights. Pair it with a good glass of red wine and simple salad of arugula, tomatoes, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Jack's Putanesca Sauce (which he is WAY overdue to make)
Adapted from our dear friend, Joseph Calderone

Anchovies, lots of them, chopped
One sweet yellow onion
Three cloves of garlic, mashed
One cup pitted Kalamita olives
Two large cans of chopped tomatoes (we love Muir Glens Organic Fire Roasted)
Fresh oregano and one bay leaf
Dash of whatever red wine you'll be drinking while making this sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the anchovies with chopped olives, mashed garlic and sweet onions in plenty of olive oil. Rest your forearm on the overhead stove because you'll be stirring this a long time. Let the anchovies, olives and onions cook until they all turn a nice purply brown, but make sure you don't brown them. The consistency should be silky. Add two large cans of chopped tomatoes, fresh oregano, bay leaf, dash of red wine, salt and pepper. Stir until all the flavors are married and turn the heat down to simmer, cover 3/4 of the way and cook for as long as possible. When you're ready to serve, boil up some linguine - we use gluten free - and serve in your favorite bowl, topped with fresh parmesan reggiano. Enjoy!

I do have plans this winter break to finally make that backsplash, with my beloved blue blue holding the center and which will made up of all the chipped cups and dishes, bowls and plates we haven't been able to part with.

Until then, the blue bowl will stay intact, atop our kitchen counter, as a daily reminder of our daily comforts and that which give us sustenance. Buon appetito!

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