Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Some things only work in some places.

Years ago I spent a week or so reading letters at the Houghton Library at Harvard. Aside from their security procedures ("Strip into this locker. Now turn slowly while we inspect you for stolen documents. Don't act innocent! We know you've got some 19th-century bit of parchment in there!"), the trip was a great success. I found lots of fun things, determined the absolute worst handwriting in the US (George William Curtis), and used the OED to look up the word "Nasty" (quite old, as it turns out).

One night, my mother's best friend Mary Ellen served steamed chicken breast with broccoli. It was totally plain because you were supposed to dip the meat and veg into a simple sauce made of oil, soy, garlic and ginger with green onion floating on the top. Utterly delicious.

I went home. I found the recipe. I attempted the dish. Repeatedly. No dice. At my house it was terrible.

Soooo....remember those gnocchi?

I made some tonight. This time I used the kind of potato he recommends.

But you know the thing about Salt Lake vs. DC? Humidity. In Miriam's house the dough came together. In Miriam's house the pillows cooked up into little cushions of love.

In my kitchen I got crumbly flour. I added a bit of water, eventually. Still not good. I added an egg yolk (after consulting some Foodgawker recipes). Finally: dough that looked about right. But when cooked? Nasty, y'all. Not at all good.

I'll try again, but I suspect that this is like Mary Ellen's dish. It'll work in DC. Here I'm out of luck.

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