Monday, November 22, 2010

Ichigo, Ichi-e

While making dinner a few nights ago, I thought of an opening of a chapter in Anthony Bourdain's latest book.

"There are songs I'll never listen to again. Not the ones that remind me of the bad times. It's certain songs, from long ago when everything, whether I knew it or not at the time, was golden. Those I can't abide. Those hurt. And what's the point of doing that to oneself? I can't go back and enjoy them any more than I did at the time - and there's no fixing things."

I think I understand what he means, both in relation to music, and now, I've discovered, with food. There are certain dishes, associated with certain times that, no matter if they're identically recreated, will only conjure a pale ghost of the former event. And who wants that? Who wants an evening that will never burn as bright as the original? Not to say that good times can't be had, because they can, but it'll never be like the original. Maybe the mistake comes in trying to recreate the event under different circumstances. The Japanese have a saying, ichigo, ichi-e, which means "one time, one place" and suggests that the best time is the present. That the moment you're in right now will never repeat itself, so live in it. Cherish it. Maybe the dish should, like the event, be left in history. I don't know. It's how I feel today after replicating a dish that has been on the table at two wonderful, unrepeatable evenings. Two evenings that, at this point, I can't even pretend to recreate. And shouldn't. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try this dish. Because it's truly magic. And it's the perfect time of year for something magical. It takes 4 ingredients and about 10 minutes to prepare, then sits in the oven for an hour and half. What you pull out will be mind-blowing, in that comfort food you didn't even know you were craving kind of way. So make it. And enjoy it with good friends, and cement golden times in your own history. Ichigo, Ichi-e.

Chicken with 40 Cloves
via Alton Brown


1 Whole chicken cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tblsp olive oil
10 sprigs of fresh thyme
40 peeled cloves of garlic
salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Toss with 2 tablespoons of the oil and brown on both sides in a wide frying pan or skillet over high heat. Remove from heat, add oil, thyme, and garlic cloves. Cover and bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove chicken and let rest for 5-10 minutes and serve.

chicken with 40 cloves before it goes in the oven

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