It had been very rainy, and I had been quite a while without a decent cooking project, so I thought maybe I would tackle something on the intimidating side. Francis Lam claims to have the secret to weapons-grade ratatouille....hmm, vegetables sound good, and so does a nice long commitment to the stove. Sold.
There is a bit of disagreement in the comments as to the "authenticity" of this particular recipe, but it took me about five hours to cook down, so if there's a more authentic way I'm probably going to skip it. Anyway, I won't say that I "slaved" over the hot stove, but I did spend the better part of my day chopping, stirring, testing, stirring, seasoning, and stirring. Low and slow cooking frequently results in deliciousness, so I was determined to do it correctly. I even tried to make the extra elements special.
Some nice decanted Frenchy wine, some Edith Piaf ready to go...this was 100% positively going to be one of those times where extreme effort is worthwhile and everything is amazing.
At some point in the stirring, seasoning, stirring phase, Anna went down for a late nap. Not her usual schedule, but not unheard of. Stir on!
And then there it was, a big pot of vegetables cooked down to their beautiful, primal essence. A thick, bubbly spread of sweet and salty tomatoey smushiness.
Something turned out the way it was supposed to! Kind of weird that Anna's still asleep now that it's almost dinner time. Oh well, no mind. This is more of a grown up meal anyway. And here comes my other grown up, and it's not even 7 pm! Uh oh.
No, Dan did not come home ready to enjoy a symphony of French vegetable delights, nor creamy cheeses, nor crusty breads, nor tragic singers. He had an affliction of the "I need you to check WebMD for me right now" variety. These are not good. I don't know if you've ever entered "blurry vision" and "headache" into the symptom checker over there, but I wouldn't say it narrows things down, exactly.
Full of the knowledge that his sickness was on a scale somewhere between major stroke and tension headache, Dan had about one bite of the ratatouille and retired to his chambers. He did suggest that the one bite was perhaps on the salty side, but I have chosen to credit that critique to the Mystery Illness with which he was, at the time, ravaged.
So with my husband thus stricken and my daughter uncharacteristically dozing, I was left utterly alone with my five-hour-not-counting-cleanup meal.
So I must confess that I joylessly ate a few lonesome bites and then packed up the whole circus. I was very, very sad. I know! I know that it looks bleak right now, mes amis. But what a difference a day makes!
Sometime mid-Thursday morning I curiously dipped a cracker into the cold quart of tomatolove. Oh, dear. Oh, my. That is very good. I'll just go back to my day....maybe one more cracker. Yes, that is delightful. Good to know. Have things to do, and I....oh, I see the refrigerator over there and that makes me remember what's inside it and I'll just give it one more cracker and then we'll be right back on track. Two more.
Three minutes and two dozen cracker scoops later, I had a thought.
I have a notoriously picky eater of a child and a supply of this...insane foodstuff. Dare I?
It started out in the usual manner.