I was very young – maybe five, maybe younger? I was an advanced reader – when I discovered the concept of meta, breaking-the-fourth-wall humour. Of course, smart as I was, I would not have used the word meta then. Why, I didn’t even eat couscous for the first time till I was seventeen! “Meta” I probably only used confidently for the first time in 2009. The conduit for this knowledge was important text, The Monster At The End of This Book, featuring Sesame Street’s Grover. When he flails and dramatically cries “You turned the page!” after I’d just turned the page? Well. There was a particular deliciousness, a certain “oh wow this is the height of wit and I just feel so clever”, which is something the Sesame Street/Muppets empire was very good at – not talking down to children, but building them up. So it was something of a disappointment to be told later in primary school by a teacher that writing a story in class about how hard it was to write a story in class was in fact not the height of wit: just lazy and unfunny. Meanwhile I was all “you know who broke the fourth wall? Shakespeare. In fact I still can’t shake that oh-so-in-on-the-joke satisfaction of the wink to camera. You should’ve seen me laugh in the 2011 Muppets Movie when they’re all “oh, okay we’ll pick up the rest of the Muppets via montage” and “we’ll travel by map!” Even though it was kind of heavy handed, it still just feels like the damn funniest thing for a character to acknowledge that they can see you seeing them.
But using it on this blog, when there isn’t even a fourth wall anyway? Okay, pretty blah. But look: here I am! Vaulted paragraphs ahead, and I didn’t even (quite) write a blog post about writing a blog post.
I’m not going to try and turn this recipe into some kind of theme-reflecting metaphor: it’s just macaroni and peas. It’s a recipe I saw in a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsall cookbook, River Cottage Veg Every Day, and while I loved it I believed I could make it simpler. Some measures I took were practical: his recipe used about seven different saucepans whereas I managed to pare it back to one. Some were just circumstantial: the macaroni was surprisingly fast-moving and I ended up accidentally tipping 3/4 of the bag into the pan of boiling water – to which I responded, well I guess that’s how much pasta we’re having.
It really is just that simple though – macaroni, boiled peas blitzed in the food processor with my good friend butter and a little cheese, stirred back through the pasta – and while what I’m describing sounds tantamount to upmarket baby food – suddenly it tastes incredible. I think it’s the fact that it’s blended up – instead of being all these separate ingredients bumping round uncomfortably in your bowl, peas sliding off your fork as they are wont to do, it’s instead all amalgamated and bound together and ever so slightly sophisticated. But still very much not so. Ultimately as long as you like peas and pasta in the first place, it’s wackily delicious. And so, so easy.
It’s also not the prettiest. But it’s going to get all chewed up anyway?
Adapted lazily from a recipe in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingsall’s book River Cottage Veg Every Day. I apologise if you don’t have a food processor – this recipe really needs it. You could try one of those blender sticks for soup, or a blender itself, otherwise maybe go hang with a friend who has one and offer to cook them dinner.
2 1/2 cups frozen peas (or thereabouts)
50g cheese, cubed. Like parmesan or colby or something, whatever you can manage.
You have two options. You can either boil the pasta and peas in two separate pans, or you can cook them one after the other in the same pan. It all depends on your dishwashing capabilities. Either way, cook the pasta in boiling salted water till tender, then drain and place in a large bowl with about 25g of the butter. Cook the peas in boiling water, then remove about 3/4 of them (really, don’t worry about the measurements here) and blitz in a food processor with the remaining butter and the cheese, till smooth-ish but still a bit nubbly from the peas. Mix this into the pasta with the remaining whole peas and divide between two bowls.
Pasta and butter is one of my fallback, can’t-hardly-think self-feeding options anyway, and this is barely more effort. The processed peas still have their bright green flavour, but the cheese and butter, swiftly encorporated into them by their heat, bring luxe richness and savoury depth. If you don’t have cheese, frankly just double the butter. And vice versa, I guess. It’s also weirdly good cold the next day, but I think I might’ve just been convincing myself that because I couldn’t be bothered microwaving it. Which might make me the worst person in the world.
I don’t know if you have them overseas, but here in New Zealand, every bunch of years or so we fill out what is called the Census, which is supposed to provide super-accurate data and a snapshot of the nation at a certain point and so on. I was really excited to fill mine out, since I irrationally love filling out forms about myself, and also because several details about myself have changed since I last filled one out. But it ended up being a little vague, and over quickly, and in the end I wasn’t sure that I’d really contributed much of a picture of who I am. Apart from the religion-related question, there didn’t seem to be anything particularly specific or illuminating in most of the questions. For example, it asked if you were living in a same sex relationship but not if you were actually gay. It gave “walked/jogged” as an example of how you got to work on a particular day – when I would do the former all the time, but never the latter. It did, I concede, ask if you have a fax machine. So we will have some very specific knowledge about faxing capabilities in New Zealand. But still: Tim and I are in there, skewing up the data with our facts. A tiny bit like voting in an election, I feel like a granule of sugar in the sugar bowl, but still satisfied that I’ve made a small difference.
Oh and speaking of doing stuff about doing stuff: Tim and I recently went to see a local production of [title of show] a musical about two guys writing a musical about two guys writing a musical. We both wrote a review about it on the Wellingtonista. Mine unsurprisingly had a lot of feelings.
And finally…I submitted a video to Hannah Hart’s Pitchin’ Kitchen thing for her My Drunk Kitchen tour to New Zealand. Because I really, really want her to come cook at our house. I think it would be so great. Oh wow, every time I try to talk about it I come over all inarticulate. I’m not actually quite sure what I’m supposed to do now but wait for inevitable disappointment (or….joy? But probably disappointment. But maybe joy? Shut up, heart of mine) but in the meantime feel free to watch the video if you like. Better yet, ignore my video and go straight to the My Drunk Kitchen channel, because good times ahoy!
title via: Two Peas In A Pod from the terrifyingly good musical Grey Gardens. Or, Grey Gahhhhhdens as I can’t help but call it. This song, like several songs in the musical, is like an old-timey song you’re sure you’ve heard before but you actually haven’t. True story.
I’m Alive, Aaron Tveit, from the musical Next To Normal. I know he’s the totally obvious, don’t even have to go looking for it kind of handsome, but oh wow. And how. Some might say too babein’.
Next time: got it in my head that an Earl Grey and Maple Syrup cake would be fun (possibly because it was the last day of summer recently and now I’m ready to go FULL AUTUMN.)