t r a n s f o r m a t i o n
I once made some creamed mushrooms. They were wild mushrooms: Chanterelles, Shiitake, and Maitake. If I closed my eyes, they smelled like the quietest part of the forest- just beneath the damp, dried pine needles- a place where a whisper sounds like a shriek breaking the silence. The mushrooms were gently separated from their feral cloak of soil and needles, sliced into uniformity, and thrown into a smoking hot skillet glistening with a light coat of clarified butter. They screamed and squealed, bleeding all of the water they held inside until they were transformed into small, golden-sided memories of their original plump selves. Just before they burned and became crisp, a tsunami of pale yellow butter bathed their every crevasse. Minced shallot and smashed garlic dove into the mix and jumped around the pan, clinging to the mushrooms for protection from the unyielding heat that would certainly burn their sweet perfume to an acrid embodiment of solid smoke. Their fate was swiftly altered when a heavy stream of cream splashed into the pan, drowning the contents in a turbulent flood of thick white liquid that hastily began to bubble and burst, thus ensuring its alteration into a thickened dream of richness dotted with thyme, sage, and lemon juice to balance the heaviness of earth with the brightness of the sun. The resulting dish cloaked the edge of my spoon like velvet draped over a chaise; all wounds of the violent cooking process absorbed by the fresh state of newness. I slid the spoon past my lips, closed my eyes, and savored the fragrant essence of transformation itself.