Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chicken Curry Udon

On Sunday, February 7th Colby Rose was due to be admitted to the hospital for a week of testing related to her upcoming surgery. Sunday was also the day that Tan was in town from Japan. Tan and Craig have a long tradition of cooking together in kitchens from Tokyo to Paris to Berkeley to New York City. Wherever they meet, they cook. Today they were thinking about Nabe, but it depended on what we could find on a Sunday, in an unfamiliar neighborhood. We were in a familiar city, NYC, but staying at our friends' place in Brooklyn.

The shopping took a few hours and led to a minute by minute adjustment of plans as one ingredient was found and another was given up on. Home with parcels in tow, Tan looked at me and said one of my favorite words, “Curry.”

The chopping and searing started up in the kitchen around 11:00. The first bottle of wine was uncorked at noon. By 12:30 the kitchen windows had beaded up with steam, and the air smelled of the magical alchemy of slow cooked onions, easing in Tan’s expert hands from sharp and crisp to sweet and smooth.

At 2:00 a few friends and their kids had arrived, and the first covered pot was carried slowly from the kitchen to the table. Thick, bright, yellow curry barely covering a density of seared chicken and thick, shiny Udon noodles, sprinkled with fresh chopped scallion.

It is a fun mess, serving Udon at the table. The noodles are large and slippery, a highly interactive and giggle inducing endeavor. We paired the curry with very cold, light beer for the grownups, and a dry, sparkling apple juice for the kids.

Everyone ate as much as physically possible and left smiling, kissing Colby Rose and wishing us all the best in the week to come. Tan was the last one to leave. He put on his boots and his parka. He looked me in the eye and said, “It’s o.k.” by which I knew he meant, it is all going to be o.k. In the embrace of his strong hug, the smell of curry trapped in his hair, it did feel like it was all going to be o.k. Our well fed little girl and her well fed parents and her well fed sister were going to all be o.k. So much curry and so much love practically guaranteed it.

I looked at my watch after he walked out the door. We were due at the hospital in an hour. Today could have been spent in a state of anxiety and worry. But it wasn't. Instead, it was a day of happy friends, and their beaming, gorgeous children, gathered around bowls of steaming, golden curry.

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