Thursday, May 13, 2010

True Adventure – Tomato Basil Risotto

 When you are Very Young, Adventure sounds like a Wonderful Thing. Unknown lands! Exploring new places! Experiencing new foods! But when you become Older, “Adventure” seems more like “Bother.” Fingers get pinched, feet get sore, bowels are unsound, and figuring out where to eat night after night is a chore.

It isn’t easy to travel gluten-free. Sometimes you end up eating plain, crappy food—or none at all. Airports are a carbohydrate wasteland. In public spaces, we want to be sure we are never more than 200 yards from a soda. "Shelf-life" is a problem for food chemists, not chefs.

Of course I pack my own food—what the TSA will allow. But one cannot feel satiated on fruit and nut bars. Salad doesn’t quite cut it, either. Besides, after eight hours in an airport, who wants to eat iceberg lettuce out of a cup? Forget the dressing; “modified food starch” could mean anything. (Note to self: learn to make beef jerky.)

Arriving at a restaurant isn’t always better. The best people: bartenders who know nothing about food allergies, say so, and are willing to go into the kitchen and read the labels on the boxes for you. The worst people: servers who assume they know about food allergies and, as a result ask neither you nor the kitchen staff any further questions. It is very common for servers to confuse “gluten-free” and “low-carb.” If only you knew how many times waiters have refused to serve me French fries...

My vacation was fun, we had a wonderful time, and there is no doubt in my mind that I ate wheat and got sick from it. We were ready to come home for some comfort food.

Risotto fits the bill nicely. It’s hot, creamy, and eaten with a spoon (okay, a fork if you want, but spoons work better in bowls). It can be made in endless varieties of flavors, vegetarian or not, as a main course or a side accompaniment. It knows no season. Risotto rocks. It’s no accident that one of New York City’s premiere gluten-free restaurants is named Rissoteria.

So, ah... Why am I not showing you a picture of this fabulous Tomato Basil Risotto of which I speak? Well, um... It’s MP’s fault. He made it, and it was so fabulous, I thought, “This is absolutely my next post!” but we’d eaten it all so I was going to photograph the leftovers when I had them for my lunch but MP who almost never eats leftovers snuck into the kitchen and ate it for his lunch and there wasn’t any to photograph. The fiend.

Here. This picture is from Last Night’s Dinner, which is where we got the recipe from. Yes, it really looks that fabulous.

Many instructions for risotto are very hyper-vigilante, “You Must Keep Stirring!” but really, risotto isn’t that much of a diva. The texture will still be lovely even if you only stir it every few minutes. If you’ve never done a risotto, this tomato-basil version is a lovely place to start.

When you are Young, Adventure is Grand; when you are Old, it is a Bother. When you can embrace all that Adventure can be, knowing that the best part of Leaving is Returning to your own Home Cooking, then you have reached just the Right Age.

Looking over our photos, MP and I think we’re pretty darn close.

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