Picture this: The wife’s on one of those game shows. Monty Hall has just revealed the mystery behind door number one …. A New Car!!!! The camera zooms in for a close up. But wait, there’s no mistaking it, the wife is…what’s this? She’s rolling her eyes. She’s leaning into Monty Hall, asking for what’s behind door number two. She’s hoping it’s a version of Sean Connery, from the early James Bond days, but where he doesn’t actually talk [wife edits: because he’s an a-class bigot] except for offering to make a martini [wife edits: because he has a fantastic accent and because I love gin].
Forget the Ferrari, door number two reveals … a flock of chickens. She exits stage right, a smile splitting her face, wondering whether to rent a poultry plucker. The audience boos disappointments. She’s the only contestant in the world who eschews the car. [gearhead edits: cashews? What are you on about?!][wife edits: I said eschew! It means forgo] [gearhead edits solemnly because, in his mind, there has been a death: I will never forgive you for forgoing the Ferrari][wife edits: hmmm, despite the alliteration?].
“I hear you got a new car.” This was the second person in as many days approaching me during errand runs, this time in the grocery store. [wife edits: don’t get paranoid now, the new car arrived only three days ago. Not from a game show, from somewhere north of Toronto. Same thing really. News travels fast around here.]
At work, an advocate for active transportation waxed on about the extra cost ofsecond cars. How walking or cycling to work, if you forgo a second car, will save you $8000 a year. Every ounce of will power prevented me from quipping, “but what about for your 19th car, how much would you save then?”[gearhead edits: we don’t have nineteen cars…wait, maybe we do]. [wife edits: you were going to flip your cars][gearhead edits: I did flip a car the other day…][wife edits: very funny. See photo].
Yes. The gearhead has bought me a new car, finally, to replace the one he sold out from under me last year. It’s a nice car. It doesn’t run yet. [gearhead edits: It will. Don’t worry.][wife edits: Me? Worry?]. What kind of car? Well…I’ll let you know in the next post, this one’s too long…and I can’t just tell you…because…there’s more to the story and I’m running out of room.
Antidote for degenerating conversation (or writing): something sweet. And yes, another recipe from the Jerusalem cookbook – everything made out of the book is wonderful. These poached pears are easy, elegant and beautiful. Their aroma, while simmering in the syrup, is floral and honeyed [gearhead edits: what do poached pears have to do with getting flipped?][wife edits: nothing. Who says I have to be logical?]
Poached Pears in White Wine and Cardamom
2 cups/500ml dry white wine (I used a fruity new world sauvignon blanc)
¾ cup superfine sugar (I used regular)
15 cardamom pods, lightly crushed (yes, you need all 15, don’t worry, the flavor does not overpower the fruit)
½ teaspoon saffron threads
pinch of salt
4 firm pears, peeled (I halved mine and removed the cores just to make it more simple to eat)
Pour the wine and lemon juice into a medium saucepan and add the sugar, cardamom, saffron, and salt. Bring to a light simmer and place the pears in the pan. Make sure they are immersed in the liquid; add water if needed. Cover the surface with a disk of waxed paper and simmer the pears, turning them occasionally, for 15-25 minutes, until they are cooked through but not mushy. To check if the pears are ready, insert a knife into the flesh; it should slide in smoothly.
Remove the pears from the liquid and transfer to a separate bowl. Increase the heat and reduce the liquid by about two-thirds, or until thick and syrupy. Pour over the pears and leave to cool down. Serve cold or at room temperature. Ottolenghi and Tamimi suggest crème fraiche on the side.