Ahhh, Excess…

Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.”
—Oscar Wilde

Ahh, Oscar…thank you for those words!

I’d love to say I admire that line solely for its literary merits, but…well…I might as well have the damned thing tattooed on my forehead. No, really. For me, if something is worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.B1AA577A-B316-4402-A87C-3C2FDC880975

All those old “moderation in all things” sentiments can kiss my ass…

Now, one point I should make is that I love to cook. The only things I obsess about more than cooking/food, in fact, are writing, music and booze (which is pretty dang close to being a part of the food thing). I study food and flavors like I never studied, well, anything in college.*

*Hey, there is definitely something to be said for the “C’s get degrees” mantra!

It’s a pretty normal thing for me to overdo even something so simple as a quickie-meal of grilled cheese and tomato soup. At this particular moment, I’m throwing together a picnic for some folks. Doing this for other people is probably a good thing, I should add, as I would undoubtedly go completely and totally gonzo if I was doing it for myself…

Three kinds of cheese, two kinds of meat, a fresh ceviche, some bread, dessert, wine, beer…I’m even contemplating throwing together some quick-toasted flatbread and making a mango chutney to go with it.

See what I mean? Things like this should always be done to excess! Hell, if anyone I know actually agreed with me and went in for the good things in life, I’d throw in some cold, pickled tongue and maybe a bit of pate de foie gras.

I am, I should probably add, also drinking beer and cranking old-school Frank Sinatra as I get all this ready…

Ahhh…excess…how I love you!

Wait, I’m supposed to be writing, you say?


This kind of thing is why, by the way, I write in coffee shops and breweries — there’s nothing to disturb me there. Well, nothing except people, but…well… Shit, I’m a writer, for the love fo God…I’m supposed to ignore the rest of the human race!

A Hint Of Food Porn

You don’t really realize just how satisfying it is to cook for yourself until you have to eat someone else’s cooking — every single damned day — for better than five months.


I love to cook. I love to cook…and I’m pretty damned good at it.

By now, I’ve made decent progress through the list I had in my head of the stuff I wanted to make when I got back. From basic steaks, to Thai green curry, to jambalaya (simmering away as I type this), the list goes on and on.  Now, it turns out, I’ve been sucked into a food & beer cooking/pairing contest.

Oh, not a real contest — just a group of friends, doing a beer-themed dinner. Except, like everything else we do, there has to be an element of competition to it. Of course it has to be a freakin’ contest — we’re the jackasses that would make a game of goddamned hopscotch competitive!

Okay, so the set-up: everyone drew randomly out of three hats for their course, for the protein they have to use and for the beer they have to pair and cook with.

Please, please, please…just not dessert, beef and IPA. Please, God, anything but THAT!

Nope, the universe (for once) smiled on me. I drew the third course (out of seven). Now, keep in mind: in a full, formal multi-course meal, that should really be a fish course…but not this time. Nope, this time I got pretty much everything I wanted from the universe. So, the dish:

Hand-made ravioli, stuffed with venison and mushrooms in a cherry lambic sauce.

Oh, shit, did I win the damned prize with those draws! I can feel my friends’ hate right now — it’s keeping me nice and warm…

And to the poor bastard who got the salad course and stouts? HAHAHAHAHA!!!

Err…sorry about that, got carried away for a moment.

Now, why do I like cooking so much? Well, aside from the fact that I absolutely love food (and, yes, beer), there is a bit more to it.

Cooking, you see, is in some ways a lot like music…and like writing. The common thread to those pastimes is simple: in almost no other profession/calling do you take a bunch of unrelated bits and pieces and create from them a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Now, I’m not much of a musician.  In spite of my love of listening, I pretty much top out at playing chopsticks on the piano*. But I am a cook…and a writer. There is, when you get right down to it, very little in this world more satisfying than sitting down and making that all, well, just work.

*And, yes, Mom…you were right way back when: I really do regret giving up the piano when I was 11!

To take “Characters A & B”, mix them with “Plot Points X, Y & Z”, bake them in “Setting N”, then come out the other side with a good story? That’s freaking magic. As a reader it’s magic, but as a writer it’s even more so.

Just like taking the worst cuts of meats you can find, and coming out with a charcuterie dish that makes everyone fall all over themselves for more…