At the age of thirty-seven, Rossini, he of the opera buffo Barber of Seville,
retired to the kitchen, cannelloni alla Rossini being
his most famous culinary work. Perhaps he thought he could be
a composer, a conductor, a chef—all in one, for once.
I understand. The kitchen is my concert hall where I am all,
at once a composer—
brussels sprouts, roasted, I pair with tilapia. Their strong green taste, sweet
crunchiness form an allegro counterpoint to the soft white adagio
of the fish, accompanied by staccato hash browns, a cadenza of crème brulee—
and, since timing is crucial, conductor & orchestra rolled into one.
I peel, wash & grate potatoes. While they soak in cold water, I rinse & halve
the Brussels sprouts, preheat the oven for ten minutes & drain the potatoes.
I dry the sprouts, toss with olive oil & kosher salt, arrange cut side down,
on a lightly-oiled cookie sheet, pop in the oven, set the timer,
rinse the fish, dry the fish, roll the fish in crumbs.
Interlude: I wash my hands, pour a glass of Chianti
& heat a cast iron skillet, add oil, take a sip of wine, roll it around my mouth, swallow,
add dry-by-now potatoes to skillet, heat a second skillet, add oil . . .
take a sip of wine, then,
andante andante, place fish in the skillet. Mark time with another wine interlude.
Accelerando! turn tilapia, flip hash browns, vigorously salt & pepper,
open oven door, stir sprouts. Mark time by setting the table, pouring wine,
then serve my concerto