Saturday, March 10, 2012
“I’m not happy with this,” sighedWayles, a spatula in one hand and a salt shaker in the other. She stood hovering over the stove, verballyshaking her fist at the pasta concoction she was whipping up for us.
I smiled from a distance. What else was I to do? She is her toughest critic.
Then I thought of something thatmight have helped her work through the challenges of cooking in the kitchen ofsomeone who doesn’t cook, i.e. my small studio apartment in Budapest.
“Can I pour you some more beer?”Though my fridge lacked anything relevant to making pasta it was well stockedwith three or four types of cheap Hungarian and German beer (courtesy of JW).
“Yes. Please…oh!” But before I could reach for thebeer, Wales spun around, her face lit up. In that flicker of time I saw a crack in her momentary “chef’sblock.” She took a hearty chug from the canand slid back over to the stove, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand asshe poured the rest of the beer into pasta. Stir, stir, taste. Still subpar. “If only I had some pepper and parmesan!” shesaid swinging the door of my glorified mini-fridge open. “Oh I know!” She grabbed the 100% concentrate “orange juice” on the bottom shelf andadded a splash to the pasta.
I sat backin my IKEA fold up chair, in total awe. Of all the sights we had seen since her and JW’s visit to Budapestwatching Wayles cook was one of my favorites. Her cooking style never ceases toamaze me. No recipe, no fear. This would have been my choice of the namefor her blog. My trailing thoughts wereinterrupted by Wayles mumbling to herself. I looked up to see her peering into my freezer, or rather my freezershelf, which is the size of a very small shoe box, “maybe I could use cheesefrom these frozen pizzas…” Finally Wayleslet out a loud sigh as the freezer door clicked shut. I knew she was as done as she could be.
We assembled amakeshift table setting of paper towels and yellow handled forks and knives, orknives and forks, and settled into the pasta. JW added a dollop of Tzatziki to the dish before tasting it. I wondered if Wayles’ creative anythinggoes-ness had rubbed off on him.
“So what was the highlight ofeveryone’s day?” I asked trying to shift the attention from the fact that Ihave the only kitchen in the world, or at least in Budapest, that doesn’t havepepper, parmesan and paprika.
“I like that walk we did,” saidJW, putting down his beer. I resistedthe temptation to joke about the fact that we had taken dozens of walks eachday. But apparently Wayles knew thespecific walk he was talking about. Thenext thing I knew we were engaged in one conversation that rolled into theother about history, communism and architecture. It would have sounded too cheesy to announceout loud but I sensed myself leaning back into my chair, feeling so gratefulfor the company, the meal and the good times.