How much good do you have to have?

Is what’s on the inside as important as what’s on the outside? Good olive oil only gets drizzled on the top, save the good wine for drinking, and how likely is it that I’m going to have some kind of traffic accident, and God forbid be stuck under a car and that the ambulance people are going to have to cut through my clothes to save me and get a glimpse of my underwear? Is it really worth it to buy the good stuff for what nobody sees? I have two words for you: uh-huh.
I never really understood the philosophy that if something is cooked into a dish that starts out tasting horrible, it’s going to get better once the dish is done. Do you have to use the best? That would be crazy unless you had your own olive groves, your own vineyards and your own underpants factory, but there is a whole alphabet between A and Z. Find ingredients that you love. Find ingredients that make you say, “I like it”. Stuff that makes you happy.
For dinner I made Sag aloo, fresh to bursting cloves of garlic (2) minced with ginger (2 inches) looking like it was picked yesterday sauted in my favorite olive oil with a little onion (and salt). And then a teaspoon full of cumin seed and a teaspoonful of fennel seed that I bought from a market that sells enough of it so that it hardly has a minute to sit on the shelf, smashed with my mortar and pestle with a few red pepper flakes. All of that added to the onion mix after the onion is completely softened and a little caramelized. I threw in some peeled and chopped and beautiful yukon potatoes and let them cook until they stuck to the bottom of the pan, then added a bit more salt and enough water to reach just to the top of the potatoes. Covered it and let it simmer. In another pan water with a spill of that same olive oil that I love and a bay leaf, and a pinch salt, I simmered fragrant jasmine rice with a cover, until it was tender. When the rice was done, I threw in a bag of delicate little spinach leaves into the poatoes and just stirred them around with the heat, waiting no more than two minutes for them to wilt. A tiny bit of butter or a drizzle of olive oil at the end. That’s going to taste good.

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