Monday, May 18, 2015

Duck, Haunch - Head, Heart

DSC01070 (1400x934)As a good INTJ, I value logic, honesty, and confidence as a basis for sound decision-making.  Yet a second voice has surfaced, feelings about the opportunities and problems being considered.   I find that over the past couple of years, I’ve developed more passion for choices, more emotion about alternatives, more intuition about people. 

‘talking with others, this emerging duality seems shared among peers previously biased one way or the other, perhaps developing from our maturity and experiences.  Accepting the evolution, DSC01071 (1400x835)it’s stimulated some further discussion about how we keep the heart and head in balance.

It’s analogous to bringing familiar, yet unrelated ingredients together in cooking, to take the MasterChef example.  Will the combination clash (as with fruit and fish) or click (as with venison and ale)?  Does a good combination just happen or does it need tending; can it be planned or is the result inherently unpredictable? 

DSC01053 (1200x1400)Ultimately, one only knows by going to the kitchen and trying: one Duck/Risotto, one Moroccan Lamb Leg.

I used the duck in two ways: as crispy breast and as confit (poached) legs.  My butcher supplied fresh pairs of each, and I set to the sensate task of spicing, rubbing, and marinating the game. 

I love the working with spice Spicesblends, it reminds me of the stalls in Turkish and Moroccan souks, vibrant earth colours and rich heavy smells.  Poaching enriches both the duck and the stock, simmering to a strong  blend of flavours during slow hours.

The risotto begin with lightly browned arborio rice and fruity white wine, but takes on earthy notes as porcini mushrooms and diced sausage are added.  The flaked duck is added last, then topped with slices of rendered and seared breast.

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It was the head’s afternoon: a complex recipe, many ingredients, planning, timing and attention required to assemble the whole. 

The combination was really superb, well blended tastes infused throughout the dish and complementary elements that rewarded exploration across the plate.

DSC01048 (1400x903)Sunday’s recipe called for a 2.5 kg lamb leg, braised and roasted.  The butcher brought out an enormous haunch and set to it with a hacksaw and knife, carving out joints and bones with deft strokes.  Back in the kitchen, w.wezen’s prep was similar to the duck: a rich rub of spices and a sear to set a crust and retain the moisture. 

Differently, it simply went into the oven for DSC01049 (1400x934)hours with no mixing and fussing.  There was time for a late afternoon walk along the Thames and people-watching in the café’s.  It was the heart’s day out, relaxed and sociable, trusting that things will come out right without continual maneuvering.

And it did come out quite lovely, tender and flavorful.  The juices were perfect with the trimmings, and the meat was delicate and evocative of distant origins.

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So when there is a decision to make, do you make it with head or heart, or take a chance with the combination?  As with the cooking competitions, will technical skill or cherished tradition produce the better result? Slow-cooked or fast-first impression; fiddle with it or let it be?

I lead with my head,  preferring to assess with a clear view of reality and a strategic range of possibilities.  But my heart is increasingly engaged with those processes,  DSC01059 (1176x1400)colouring choices with passion or doubts. 

Writers know there is strength in how each informs and tempers the other, complementing and enlivening the whole.   The head says which way to go, the heart says to keep walking, is one aphorism; The heart always sees before the head can, observes Scottish essayist Thomas Carlyle.

Yet they can often come into conflict:  beliefs vs. hopes.  The desire to know why reverberates against the refusal to accept answers.

DSC01080 (1400x934)It doesn’t lead to more mistakes, but it does draw out my inner debates.

I find that I rewrite notes more often, adding and scrubbing emotive adjectives. 

I am pausing to consider whether achievement of a goal will yield satisfaction as well as success.

I do feel more whole.

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