…on good food, questionable judgment, and making life work
So, last night was Halloween. I have three kids–the oldest is close to aging out of the holiday, and my youngest is just now hitting her trick-or-treat stride. I’m not terribly artistic, nor am I crafty. Costumes are a challenge. Fortunately, we have a few store-bought costumes from years past (read as: terribly stained) that the youngest can wear, we have no shortage of princess dress-up outfits that my middle child loves, and my oldest had an 11th-hour stroke of brilliance that he and my husband could easily put together.
Halloween dinner is always a struggle, and I’m not super-uptight about it (as I tend to be with nearly every other thing in life). I made a big pot of what we will refer to as “mulligatawny.” It came out pretty not-tasty. Meh. That’s what you get for trying to make something good from a whole bunch of vegetables and very little else (and by very little else, I mean barley.) So, dinner sucked and after dragging the kids around the neighborhood, and then watching them delight over their hauls, and then dealing with the resulting sugar buzz right before bedtime, Mama needed something tasty in her belly.
So, several months ago, I relented and ordered take-out from a nearby Chinese joint. You can read my review here. I got all fancy and high-minded with my order while the spouse ordered the old standby — General Tso chicken. Yeah, mine sucked with a capital stink. His was so good. It basically reaffirmed and reminded me of my love of black pepper. I typically have two (or more) varieties of black pepper in the spice cabinet–my favorites being Tellicherry and Vietnamese. But I like to investigate other avenues for getting spice into my foods, my most recent being zhug, Szechuan peppercorn, and sambal.
This General Tso was superlative. It was crispy, lightly sauced, and the aroma of black pepper kind of crept into my nose, and before I knew it, I was salivating all down the front of myself. I lost all control of my faculties, and I did terrible things to that chicken. And I’ve been dreaming about it ever since.
I know–it seems a little overboard for a take-out Chinese experience.
Anyway, after a crappy, unsatisfying dinner, and a looooooong night with the kiddos, my belly wanted some of that General Tso. And atypical of my usual pattern of denial and restraint, I ordered it. Oh, the anticipation! Gin was the answer while I waited for the spouse to retrieve our hard-earned grown-up Halloween treat.
It was this:
It was sweeter than the kids Tootsie Rolls and had ZERO detectable spice. Dammit.
And yes, I ate it anyway. Because one has to pay for one’s mistakes. And now I have to run extra-long today to make up for that transgression. But, it has given me the motivation to get in the kitchen and make that perfect, crispy, black peppery chicken bite.