Friday, January 6, 2006
Striving for Perfection, with Panna Cotta & Pomegranates
A couple of weeks or so ago, a very wise woman told me something important. She told me that sometimes, you can get so afraid of not doing things perfectly, that you end up doing nothing at all.
I never thought of this before. I like to believe that I'm human. I make mistakes - I'm not proud of them, but I try to learn from them. I'm notoriously messy, I can't be bothered to vacuum before I have guests over, they'll dirty the place anyways, and well - the dishes have been known to wait for a couple of days, or even a week, before I get round to them. I do like organizing - the spice drawer, the sock drawer. I make scrapbooks. In school, I take notes using mind maps. Sometimes, the dinners I throw are planned down to the tiniest detail and I've done long lists taking every possible outcome into consideration - what glasses to use, what herb to top a dish with - and at other times, I forget to buy half of the groceries I need.
Still, deep down, despite all these thing - I guess I have to admit that I am a perfectionist, when it comes to some things. I guess one could say I do strive for perfection. And I think that that fact is a major limit to what I can do - or at least, a limit to the things I actually want to do and do do.
Like blogging. My conscience is black, black, black, for not having blogged at all for the past month, and then some - I know, I didn't blog that much before either, but NOTHING? Surely, I've been eating??
And I don't want to go all whinny and apologetic, because it's my blog and I can do whatever I want to with it (or in this case, not do anything at all!) But the thing is, I don't want to not blog. I don't want to stop doing this, out of fear of not doing it perfectly.
Foodblogging for me is a life confirming activity. It manages to meld together some of the things I love the most: food, writing, photography and meeting new people. It helps me to remember to appreciate these things, to treasure them. It makes me happy. So you could say I blog out of purely egoistic reasons. That just makes it even more ludicrous to be held up with this idea of me letting someone down when I don't put up posts. Only I suppose I am letting someone down - myself. Not necessarily because I'm not writing 7 posts a week, but because I fail to remind myself of the things that are important to me - one among many of them definitely being this.
I think my lack of posting lately has a tiny bit to do with a sudden feeling of blogging having to be perfect. Or, let's say - unique. A slight feeling of pressure to produce posts that are special, and not just a statement of this and that ingredient, blended in this and that way, baked in a so and so warm oven. But who decides what "perfect" food blogging is? Among all the other things, what I like about food blogging is that there are no judges. There might be favorites, nominations and book contracts signed, and there's a general consensus that well, food is a major subject. But other than that, you're free to do as you wish.
I think I forgot that. I think I forgot that "perfection" isn't the goal. Having fun is. So I'm going to stop feeling bad about not blogging when I don't, and just enjoy the times that I do. Not worry so much about it, about it having to fit my own, or someone else's definition of perfect. Just like I didn't worry to much about these.
Panna Cotta with Pomegranates
As it was, I actually wanted to do a pomegranate jelly to put on top of the panna cotta, but time and such had me opting for the easier version of just spooning the seeds on top, providing a nice textural crunch. Just goes to show that really, it isn't about things being perfect, or as you had planned - improvising and doing what seems right can be just as good.
For 8 small tumblers of velvety smooth panna cotta:
0,75 L whipping cream
4 gelatin sheets (soaked. You could experiment on the amount here, I'll try it with three sheets the next time I do them)
150 ml sugar (1,5 dl)
Seeds of 3 vanilla beans
Seeds of 2 pomegranates
Whisk together the cream, sugar and vanilla bean seeds in a pan. Bring to the boil and let simmer for 10 minutes. Leave to cool for a bit. Gently wring the water from the gelatin leaves, then dissolve them in the hot cream. Strain the cream through a sieve into the tumblers. Put in the fridge for a couple of hours, to shapen up. Decorate with the seeds from the pomegranates.
And woe and behold, I might not be able to do the things I set out to do - but other people do, and do it so well! Go Nicky and Oliver!;-)