Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Food and Thought

By Shane Henry Kwiatkowski '11

Kwiatkowski '11
Apple, Sausage and Brie Layer with Rosemary, Cinnamon, Sage and Garlic
Halloween 2011, Washington DC

1lb ground pork sausage
4 apples (tart variety)
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 wheel brie cheese
large sprig fresh rosemary, or 3 tbsp. dried leaves
2 tbsp. powdered cinnamon
10 or so fresh sage leaves (fresh is better)
olive oil and/or butter
salt and pepper

Start by browning pork in pan with a little oil, salt and pepper over medium heat. You’re aiming to brown your meat a little crisp. If you’re not sure what kind of brown, imagine the rich brown wood of the tables and chairs at the Library of Congress twinged in cinnamon, or like dark hazel eyes.

As the meat browns, dice one apple and the onion together, minding the apple seeds; they’re bitter like October DC wind. Mix the apple and onion in a bowl with some olive oil and butter and half of each of the spices. The sage might smell bitter when you first tear the leaves, but it will mellow. Some things must have heat applied to remove bitterness, the gentle warmth of convection, conduction and intention stripping away whatever acrid thing may be held within. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

When the meat has crisped, toss the apple-onion mixture into the pan. Add a little oil or butter if any sticking occurs, though this will be unlikely. You will smell the warm fragrance of the spice and herbs as an offering to the Fall air. The sage will consecrate and invite life; the rosemary for memory; the cinnamon ushers in joy. Perfect for the souls of Samhain. I contemplate the dead as Kelly and Kenzie busy themselves cleaning the table, stringing lights, and readying maple cookies in the shapes of tender, small leaves. I toss the mixture so nothing will stick.

Cut the rest of the apples into slices 1/8-1/4” thick, and the brie into wedges. When the mixture is done crisping, remove pan from heat; drain pan of excess fat, leaving a little bit. Put a layer in of sausage then apples and brie in your casserole dish. When I baked mine I laid the slices of apple around the edge of the dish, the moon’s life of full and wane emblazoned in apple flesh on top in honor of passing days and those who have passed.

When finished layering, put aside the dish and take the garlic cloves, mash them out of their papery skins. Then put the pan back over low heat and place the garlic and the rest of the spices inside, swirling in a little butter and olive oil. When heated and fragrant, pour over the layer.

Cover and bake for 25min. Remove cover and bake for around 10min until the apples and brie are golden-brown and bubbly, respectively. Take out and take to table. Garnish with more sage leaves, cinnamon and rosemary if desired.

Earlier that day at the Holocaust Memorial, I had seen the name “Kwiatkowski” on a board displaying names of Polish lost during WWII, dioramas of great ovens, and thousands of shoes. I do not know how those lost souls spent their Halloweens, but I hope that they were as grateful for theirs as I’m for mine: lights in wine bottles casting soft glows, the radiant smells of warm food, the buzzing of wine, and a prayer to family, whoever or wherever they may be. We drink and eat to the night, and for what life gives and takes.

Kwiatkowski '11 majored in Creative Writing and Anthropology. He aspires to write, act, and travel the world to learn about its people of all kinds, its workings and its magic. Hobbies include thinking about the connectedness of things, cooking, singing and talking with people about nearly anything. Animism is his go-to philosophy, and seeks to honor the spirit of the world through creation and much-too-much laughter. He currently lives in Vancouver, Wash.

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