By week two I was hankering for cheese and eggs, but not for meat. The bigger challenge was that I fell into a sort of hunkering-down rut: a lot of earnest repetition. That’s what happens when you’re on a one-month gig—you can see the finish line, so you don’t really have to innovate. I eventually stayed vegan for almost two months, but I wasn’t experimenting enough.
This time I’m determined to experiment more. A recent meal at Mario Batali’s all-vegetable restaurant in Eataly was instructive. It was the best food I ate at that grand, multi-restaurant Italian theme park in Manhattan. They served caramelized, roasted delicata squash with a layer of creamy, fresh mozza on crusty bread, with olive oil and a tiny bit of salt (show here at right). Who would have thought: squash bruschetta? It was staggeringly good. They also served a terrific shaved-vegetable salad with baby carrots and brussels sprouts (shown bove). I’ve had several shaved-veggie salads recently, using ribbon-thin strands of even tough vegetables like raw turnip, fennel and carrots, with a bracing vinaigrette.
So: more cooking techniques and a wider variety of vegetables, to avoid the rut. I’m going to use January to expand my skills as a cook.