AI Note:
5 February 2018

¶ Let’s not talk about updates. Remember my ha-ha mention, the other day, of “aborting” a Windows update? On Saturday, I let the update run its course, and the result was a machine, my already beloved little Surface, that didn’t work. At all. Hours of highest-quality tech guidance were required to bring it back to life — and then to make sure that the update was successful. HOURS. (To get from “92%” to “94%” took forty minutes.) Meanwhile, where was Kathleen? Kathleen had lost her phone. Any doubts that she lost her phone were quashed when she went to the phone store and they told her that her number had been canceled! So she has a new number as well as a new phone. She left work early, and was out of reach for two hours. “It took forever.” Between waiting to get from “94%” to “96%,” wondering if it really made a difference in the end, and agonizing over Kathleen’s whereabouts — all calls, I only later knew why, went straight to voicemail — I was reduced from planning a nice dinner to calling in. 

One of the nice thing about the old days that we were unaware of at the time: no updates. 

The Surface crashed on Saturday night. Instead of a nice dinner, we had spaghetti with ragù bolognese. Not too shabby really; I follow Marcella Hazan’s recipe, as passed down by her son in his DK pasta book, and I’ve learned not to freeze it . Still agitated last night (Sunday), I couldn’t decide what to do, so I made a risotto. Making a risotto has become the thing that I do when I am so stressed out that the very idea of following a recipe is hateful. It’s not that I’m feeling creative or imaginative but rather the reverse: I know that there is a really high basement, mere inches below ground level, into which I will fall if fall I must. It doesn’t matter how relatively uninspired my ideas might be, for the result is sure to be edible as long as 

  • I use arborio rice, which I stock anyway instead of the usual American stuff; it makes a perfectly nice ordinary side dish,
  • The chicken broth is good, and there’s plenty of it, and
  • I have at least one interesting vegetable. 

Last night, I had two. I had a leek, and I had an ear of corn. I’ve used corn in risotto plenty of times, but I’d never substituted leek for shallot before. I was rather alarmed at first because, once the diced leek had softened and I’d tossed in the rice, I began to see little brown bits — little, but very brown, verging on burned. Meanwhile, the rice wasn’t cooperating, it wasn’t doing that thing where it turns translucent but for the kernel at the core. I almost threw the leek and rice away at that point. But I was too tired for fussing, so I forged on, and, somehow, the brown bits disappeared. Whether they dissolved into grains or evaporated into thin air I cannot say, but there was nothing scorched about the dish as served forth. The rice, meanwhile, plumped up nicely as per.

Being tired, I couldn’t decide what to do with the corn. Sauté it first, as I often do for a side dish, in butter and oil, seasoned with salt and oregano? Or just toss it in raw? I went with the second option, not because it was easier but because something told me that what I really wanted from the corn was its freshness. Its virginity, really. That’s what I wanted last night, anyway. At another time, perhaps it would have been more agreeable to sex up the corn just as the rice had been sexed up with the leek and Agata & Valentina’s truly fabulous chicken stock (clear as bouillon, by the way). But not last night. 

Kathleen liked it. She said, “You’ve seasoned it with something? What is it? Oh, it’s the leek!” When we sat down, I tossed a baggie of grated parmesan into a bowl, and into the bowl I stuck a spoon, but neither of us made use of it or the cheese. 

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