Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Frittata by any other name...

Lessons from a cooking class...

Last night, in an attempt to get inspired to keep my new year's resolution to cook one item a week, I signed up for a Tapas cooking course. Okay, so we didn't actually have to cook anything--the chef did that, while we drank three different cocktails. Now that's my kind of cooking class.

The first tapas was meatballs on toothpicks. They were tasty, looked fairly simple to make, but had peas in the sauce. Peas? Now, I, unlike many people, actually like peas. But I think they have their place, and I'm not sure it's in the sauce of an appetizer you're hoping to woo dinner guests with.

Next up was grilled shrimp in sauce (it had a fancy name, but I've forgotten it, possibly because at this point we were on to cocktail number 2, which I liked much better than cocktail number 1). The shrimp, and its sauce, was very tasty though.

Tapas #3 was artichokes. I love artichokes but after watching the chef peel the artichoke to remove the skin ("You have to work quickly--QUICKLY--so the artichoke doesn't turn brown!"), cut it, core it, steam it, then create a marinade, I felt a little overwhelmed, and stressed by the flurry of activity, and, I have to say, I prefer the marinated artichokes in my refrigerator. You know, the ones you can buy in a big jar at Pusateri's that require no preparation.

So, I was banking on Tapas #4. The final tapas. The one that would wow me--and my friends at my next dinner party.

The final Tapas--the piece de resistence, according to the chef--was Spanish Tortilla. I was ready. This would be the appetizer that would make me a fabulous hostess. With this tapas, I wouldn't need to worry about other tapas. I would just need this one. Twenty minutes later, after sauteing and roasting and mixing and baking (and a lot of other details lost on me as I munched on bread and enjoyed my Singapore Sling), the chef removed the Tortilla from the oven. He dramatically flipped it upside down from the pan onto the counter, then, cut it into bite-size pieces and passed it around. I looked at my cube of egg, potato and pepper.

"So WHAT you do you think?" The chef asked with gusto. There were resounding MMMs and YUMs from everyone else, but I knew better.

In my mind, this was no piece de resistence. I was looking for something dramatic, unique, and pretty. This messy egg concoction in front of me was none of these things. This was a FRITTATA. I was sure of it. Okay, so maybe I've never actually made frittata myself, but Mara has. You know, the main character of Stuck in Downward Dog. And let me tell you, it did NOT go over well with her friends.

It may be called Spanish Tortilla, and it may be healthy and tasty. But to me, and Mara, it was frittata, a fancy omelette, best served at brunch.

So I finished my Sinagpore Sling, ate the cherry, and went home.

I learned a valuable lesson. Sometimes, a chef knows best. And other times, you should trust your fictional characters. Because sometimes, they know the truth.

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