Monday, July 17, 2006

A Better Cook than a Pianist

As I struggled through a practice session with my chamber ensemble at Chautauqua trying not to be the one who kept the piece under tempo, I found myself thinking of lunch. As fun as it can be to make music together, I suddenly wanted to be creating something all by myself and I was hot and hungry.

When I got back to our amazing house on Miller, I whipped up some bodacious tuna salad, putting in tuna, hard-boiled egg, mayo, sweet pickle relish, crisp red peppers, and a hint of Vidalia onions. I love that feeling of creating food from what there is -- and that is basically what you do when you rent a house with 5 other people for the week.

After lunch I returned to my hot little practice cabin for another couple of hours on my own. But once again as I got hot and tired and the music started to sag, I started dreaming of food. This time it was potato salad for dinner. Back at the house, I boiled up potatoes, peeling eggs and sautéing onions and peppers while they cooked. I mixed up a base of Dijon mustard, mayo, pickle relish, and balsamic vinegar. I sliced the hot potatoes into this dressing, stirred, seasoned, and topped with sliced green olives.

I am scoring big points as a cook. It’s a good thing, because my confidence as a pianist among all these accomplished musicians is flagging. I relinquished the first part of the Bolling Suite to another pianist, a music major from the U of Wisconsin, who is unbelievably talented. I could see that I was never going to be able to play this movement up to tempo by Friday. So on Friday I will play the lovely Irlandaise (from the Bolling Suite) and a movement or two of a Bach sonata with Deborah. Maybe by dropping back to something more manageable, I can free up some practice time to enjoy scenes like Lake Chautauqua pictured above.

And maybe my culinary skills will bring me the recognition that I am definitely not headed for as a pianist. I do love to cook, just as much as I love to play the piano!


Blogger Kristin said...

A true renaissance woman – cooking, writing, making music. I think you should exalt in all of your talents and really enjoy this week. It sounds wonderfully difficult.

6:54 PM  
Blogger Old Lady said...

I put capers in my Tuna Salad and love olives in my potato salad.

Being able to play a musical instrument is a talent in and of itself, to me. No matter what you do in that regard, it will only expand your ability and confidence.

I watch Shine the other night for the first time. I need to watch it again!

10:28 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I have only ever had warm / hot potato salad once. A friend's mother had prepared it, warm sliced potatoes, lettuce leaves, and some vinegar based dressing. It was a Slovenian style potato salad. I am used to the Polish or German style (cold with potatoes, small veggies - like peas, corn - chopped egg, chopped carrot, chopped apple, onions, and salad dressing).

I prefer the salad dressing to mayonnaise because it has more zip. Of course, if you season the mayonnaise (as you did), then it is really is a non-issue. I like to add dill and chives instead of onion.

I generally find it pretty easy to cook (provided you have a modicum of ingredients) and, yet, so many people don't know how. My biggest gripe is people who aren't open to new variations and tastes. Cooking quickly loses its appeal when you are limited to a few mainstays.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

"Bodacious" tuna salad? God I love you!

Is that pic taken from where you're staying? Wow!!

9:28 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

I absolutely love all the variations on tuna and potato salad that you have collectively suggested. Cooking offers an infinite number of ways to be creative!

Reya -- I must credit Google image with the pic, although it looks exactly like this.

1:54 PM  

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