09 October 2009

Half An Onion: A Tale of a Small Miracle

The drive home took nearly forty-five minutes.

Forty-five minutes I'll never get back. Fatigue was too deep in my marrow for me to gripe about it. I was in a state of fugue. My eyes were open and I was driving safely, by all appearances. My mind was off somewhere else.

Apparently in the kitchen.

Arriving home, I quickly set my briefcase and lunchbag and camera down. I kicked off my shoes and slid into my bedraggled slippers, shuffling into the kitchen. I had no idea what to have for dinner. The kitchen god smiled, though, and opportunities fell out of the pantry and into my waiting hands.

Half an onion.
Two cloves of garlic.
Small quantity of peppered bacon.
Half cup long grain rice.
Quart of chicken broth.
A can of pinto beans.
Bay leaf.
Pinch of dried thyme.
Fresh ground black pepper.
Quarter teaspoon smoked paprika.
Pinch of cayenne.
Two carrots.

A small smile tugged at the corners of my mouth, as I sliced the bacon into small pieces, setting them to brown in my trusty saucier. I held the onion and cut it into large dice. The bacon was getting fragrant.

A knot unloosened in my belly. I may have actually chuckled.

The bacon was crisp, so I scooped it out of the pan. The grease I spooned off until I had just enough. The onions hit the pan, and oh, smelled so good. I laughed. They fried gently, crispy brown on the edges. The garlic made nice with it, turning over in the pan. I was smiling broadly now. At that right time, in went the rice. I spooned it over and over, getting it good and coated. Just about the time it smelled nutty, that moment, I poured in the chicken broth to sizzle and bubble. A quick stir, and I tipped in the pintos.

I was whistling now.

A squall of herbs and spices: bayleafthymeblackpepperpaprikacayenne, mmm, mmm, so nice to get lost in THAT storm. The little flecks of goodness swirled around and around as the liquid came to the boil. I was hopping a little, almost...dancing.

On went the lid, down went the flame, and few minutes to simmer. I reckoned twenty would just about do it. At about the ten minute mark, I sliced the carrots medium-thick and put them in the simmering broth.

My kitchen smelled delicious. Somewhere, I heard the tinny clank of a rusty lock being slipped from the door to the cage. I growled softly, spoon in hand.

Cook 'til its done, that's the key. I pulled my big white pasta-cum-soupbowl-cum-allpurpose dish from the cupboard between the stove and the sink. My glass of iced tea stood patiently sweating, awaiting the reunion with the bowl of...soup? stew? I was about to ladle up.

Off with the lid, and a fragrant cloud of steam gently caresses my face and nose. Breathing deep, I feel slightly dizzy, uncoiling like a watch spring finally run down. I ladled up a big helping of whatever it was I just made, and took it outside to my humble patio. The tea gladly tagged along.

I sat down to my repast, joined by the soft whisper of wind and the rustle of leaves. I stuck the spoon in to bring a big mouthful of goodness to my waiting gullet. I paused. Sitting there, alone on the patio with book, bread and soup, I suddenly realized I was witness to a miracle.

Small, humble, but a miracle just the same. I put the spoon in my mouth, closed my eyes and sighed. Half an onion and some time had just made me human again.

For that, I bowed my head and gave thanks.


  1. Beauuuuuuutiful! I'm starving. Food writer, you could so easily be...

  2. Is it too much for me to assume that the kitchen god was pleased?

    I want bacon now but I'm on.a bus and the bus god is not smiling.

  3. 9:30 in the morning and now I want soup.

    PS- An onion has saved my butt on more than one occasion.

  4. Just noticed the miracle calendar - cool.

  5. Cooking and writing (especially poetry) -- life's best free therapy. We'd make great roommates. :)

  6. Its 8:33 inthe morning here and now I'm STARVING!! Thanks, so much! ;0)~

  7. That soup looks wonderful!!!!!!!!

    I love what you can do with soup....it's one of my favorite things to make and it's about that time of year for it too...

    I cooked up a huge pot of chili about 2 weeks ago. Cooked it up on Saturday and had it for dinner on Sunday. (let the spices mesh for about 24 hrs) Spoon on some sour cream, shredded cheese and maybe some crushed up Nacho Cheese Doritos...and OH!!! YUUUUMMMMMMM!!!!!!

  8. If it starts with bacon, it has to be good!

  9. I would have stopped at McDonald's. Good work.

  10. The simplest of ingredients can make the most amazing dish....or maybe it was just your description. Mmmmmm

  11. you made that from scratch? no recipe - just like naturally threw stuff together and voila! food? damn....you ARE more than meets the eye, arentcha?


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