Food and Drink 

The cool upside of cold food


The first "date" my "husband" and I went on – and I use both terms loosely – was a picnic, at his suggestion.

I was truly impressed, not only because of its built-in romanticism, but also because he offered to make the whole darned thing. To this day, we still laugh about it, for it was a picnic like no other.

Not that it really mattered what we ate, we were so ga-ga over each, but the whole thing was meat. Alongside a babbling brook in a woodsy glen in the Duffey Lake corridor, he carefully unpacked and arranged on a blanket three containers: one of spicy Thai chicken, one of marinated salmon, and one of blackened Cajun-style wings (I guess he had to use up the parts left over from the Thai chicken). Oh, and a couple of slices of bread.

Nary a fruit nor vegetable had so much as touched the inside of that thermal picnic bag. Luckily, I was prescient enough to have brought my own water bottle along.

Regardless, the whole affair was delicious and impressive, all the more so because it was an unusually hot May that year and you knew he had spent more than a few hours over an equally hot stove the day before.

Therein lies the magic of good cold food on a hot summer’s day, or anytime.

Given its detachment from the mundane reality of measuring spoons, dirty food processors and empty spice bottles, it seems almost mystical. It’s as though a sepulchral great-aunt has drifted into your kitchen and slaved away unbeknownst to you, leaving behind no dirty dishes and a platter of delectable cold cuts or bean salad before quietly slipping out the back door.

The queen of gourmands, M.F.K. Fisher, once said that a whole, perfectly roasted chicken, with its breast done to a golden brown, stashed in the fridge for you to pick at made you richer than having a ton of money in the bank. It’s also much easier to secure.

I’m also big on cold roast chicken, or turkey, and have been since I was a kid. A school lunch of roast chicken sandwiches made with a light skim of mayo, too much cranberry sauce, and lots of salt and pepper and lettuce were my idea of heaven.

And there’s nothing wrong with cold roast pork you can chisel away at, or a big container of home-made potato salad or sliced beets that turn into an instant side dish or snack with a drizzle of horseradish or the mustard-based dressing described below.

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