Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Trial and Pear

Forgive me, for I have sinned.

When my work day comes to a close and I begin to make my way home, I start to think about dinner. Okay, that's not exactly true - I think about dinner frequently throughout the day. But I think about it the most on my way home, because that's when I stop off at the store. Having recently cooked my pumpkin mascot, I had about a 1/2 cup of pumpkin purée remaining in my fridge that I thought would make a good fall soup. "Certainly the market will have some fall vegetables," I thought, as I walked briskly to Zabars, clutching the lapels of my cardigan together (I left my scarf at work), "I could make a lovely roasted turnip and pumpkin soup. Maybe with walnuts. Pecans? No, walnuts." My mind went on like this as I walked, spinning, trying to pair the flavors in my head.

When I arrived at the store, I headed directly towards the produce. "Turnips? Hmmm... nope. Parsnips? Some interesting carrots? No?? Crap."

Time to improvise. I see Bosc pears! My imagination perks up: "Yes! Those would taste good with pumpkin. I'll roast them, add some cardamom, some fresh grated ginger, incorporate that into the pumpkin soup, whip up a nice vanilla-scented cinnamon cream to plop on the top, it will be fabulous."

When I arrive at my kitchen at last, I commence roasting and simmering, and creating the whipped cinnamon cream. My husband comes home, and after observing me for about 30 minutes, immersed in my project and not paying him any attention, says, "That had better be the world's best soup."

The final product tasted as divine as I imagined. Unfortunately, I committed a cardinal sin of chef-dom along the way, which ultimately ruined the dish. All of my conceptual focus went to the flavor, and I completely ignored what the texture of the pear would do to my creamy pumpkin soup. It made it grainy. I chewed my soup, and probably made an ugly face. I did not anticipate this.

But I should have. I know better. I've eaten pear before, and I am familiar with its grainy texture. Pear is wonderful in so many dishes, sweet and savory, but it is not a good choice for creamy soups. A chef needs to be able to think about more than flavors. There is so much to consider when building a great meal. If I'm going to master this cooking thing, I need much more practice. I'm not afraid to keep trying. 


Anne said...

Yes, there is a solution! I love the taste of pear in soup; my favorite combination is roasted yellow bell pepper and pear. The secret is to strain the soup after it has been pureed. Then the texture is really smooth.

Veronica said...

ahhhh, yes, of course. the genius of the strainer!!