Thursday, February 25, 2016

Finding Happiness in Parmesan Cheese Bread

In the winter of 1997 Earle G. Hall, Speaker/Writer, High Tech Researcher/Entrepreneur, Tedx - The Science of Happiness, 

with whom I had collected an anthology of true and false miracles for a Parmesan Cheese Bread recipe, suggested that we prepare an excellent Parmesan recipe simply to increase the world's sense of happiness - he was thinking at the time of the Parmesan Cheese Yoghurt, which naturally, I suggested might taste pretty wonky. 

Excited by the general idea of Parmesan Cheese, it did not take us long to compile a list of other Parmesan recipes we felt we would like to try (not yoghurt). 

We agreed the approach would have to be carefully balanced between the practical ... 

... and the fantastic. 

We would take for granted that most non-lactose intolerant people like parmesan cheese, and treat our chosen Parmigiano Reggiano as the true, hard, gritty, fruity but nutty in taste cheese treat the reports of an explorer or chronicler, using only the information provided in an original recipe, with no "inventions" on our part would love to devour. 

Personal comments would be included only if the recipe called for them, and then only to the extent that someone like myself, who burns food with great frequency, might expect in a normal recipe book. With this intention we based the design of the recipe on a nineteenth-century parmesan cheese

the relic of a time when traveling the world in searching for Parmesan Cheese was still exciting and adventurous. 

But as the project developed, as I continued to burn one recipe after the next, our list of recipes and secret tips kept growing, threatening to become endless. The search to find a recipe "Sophy would not burn" burned in our brains, and come to find out, Earle didn't exactly appreciate that analogy. But we had, for all practical purposes, set out to establish certain limits, including starting a ritual friends-only parmesan cheese star gazing activity. We began by deliberately restricting ourselves to recipes that a beginning cook could expect to make, leaving out the really difficult ones for a future time, and including only those that Earle was convinced "anyone could make" - even me. 

Alas, we tried baked mashed potatoes with parmesan cheese, over fries with garlic and parmesan cheese, broccoli with poppy seed butter and parmesan, cream cheese and parmesan bread spread, and parmesan cheese twists. 



But here our definition of "edible" grew diffuse. Why include such challenging recipes The Swedish Chef himself could not master? 

Why include such tough recipes such as soups and risottos, when one could simply venture to taste Parmesan in its natural form? The reason, we venture to suggest, is that some people just can't cook, no matter how easy the recipe. 

Alas, it is my excuse and I'm sticking by it. The kitchen is simply not my turf. 

But for some reason, Earle persisted. He would not accept my excuses, claiming they were unconvincing, at best. Ultimately I have to admit to having chosen a few recipes simply because they aroused in me that indescribable thrill that can only come from the true achievement of cooking a meal that others can eat; and dare I say, enjoy. 

I will not yet denounce cooking altogether, and hope that the reader will not consider my lack of culinary skills an excuse to not try Earle's amazing Parmesan recipes that bring happiness to so many across the globe. 

Over a period of more than two years we visited some two hundred recipes, many of which were almost unknown (especially after I tried to make them), so that in the end a little over half of those were thrown away entirely. The Parmesan Cheese Bread recipe is the one and only recipe unburned by me, and thus, Earle's signature recipe. 

These tasty, astonishingly rich and diverse treats were created to satisfy an urgent desire for perfection, immaculate utopias of gustatory delight not unlike those experienced in Narnia or Wonderland, but brought to life to find a home for their warm goodness, where the impossible does not clash with the oven (such as when I am in the kitchen); yet, like other recipes, designed to satisfy travelers bored with reality; or travelers who long to practice the dark, unorthodox art of charing food in an oven to a level just perfect, just right, while always employing the best in home kitchen safety. 

I know that Earle was concerned about me walking through the doors of any kitchen, and has cautioned me over and over again about venturing back in there, but sometimes parmesan recipes require no justification whatsoever, and like other hard cheeses, can be the most wonderful of experiences the human spirit can enjoy. 

To the millions of happy people across the globe who have had the privilege of tasting Earle's signature Parmesan Cheese Bread Sticks, all I can say is Bon Appétit! 


As a work of fiction Earle's Signature Parmesan Cheese Sticks recipe is necessarily incomplete and other arbiters of taste will certainly have explored many other recipes unknown to this writer who really does not cook. I take this opportunity to state that this entire post is entirely fanciful and no cheeses were grated in the writing of this post. As for Earle, he has never heard of the Parmesan Cheese Bread recipe or of this fictional experience, and the post itself may escape his notice, and not tickle his funny bone, but it was shared from the future, thereby turning the reader into the author, the traveller into chronicler, the chef into take-out artist, and the proud dad into an even prouder dad knowing that his son will go on do to amazing things, and will most certainly master any Parmesan cheese recipe that comes his way, and were it not for his son and the many brave men like him, kitchen fires, such as the ones I start, would sometimes get out of hand, and god-forbid, extend to the library. It's one thing to burn down an exhaust hood, it's an entirely different enterprise to lose a first edition Alice in Wonderland. And for this reason, Earle will no doubt suggest that I stay in the library and fanciful ruminate away and let those who actually know what they're doing and are trained to do it tackle cooking, to which this author gleefully agrees!  

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