The other day I was browsing through chicken recipes in Epicurious, when I realized with a start that I had every ingredient for William Sertl's Chicken Provencal. Brine-cured black olives? Yes. Anchovies? Yes, and not an unopened can but recent leftover ones from a sauce I had made the other day for pork--yes!! What a rim shot this recipe was.
I doubled the recipe, which led to a lot of sauce, but I rummaged around in my cupboard and found some Israeli couscous, which I have a bit of a thing for. So I browned it in a little olive oil and cooked it in water, and voila, there it was in all its glorious chewy-eyeball texture. Everyone liked it. We had leftovers for lunch yesterday, and I boiled up some orzo because the Israeli couscous was gone (because, ahem, I had eaten it). "Hey, this isn't Israeli couscous!" exclaimed Sherlock.
Speaking of Provence, which I was, because Provencal means "of Provence," did you know I spent spring vacations there in eighth and ninth grades? My father was stationed in Germany and we traveled whenever we could. I don't remember olives, anchovies, tomatoes, or wine but I remember sweets, because that's the wavelength I was on at the time. Fragrant, grainy lavender honey and marrons glaces, and creme de marrons. Marrons is French for chestnuts. I never knew, before that vacation, anything about eating chestnuts, except for that Christmas song about roasting them over an open fire. Ever since the American Chestnut blight in late 19th and early twentieth centuries, we don't really have any chestnut trees to speak of. Not a good time for American Chestnuts or Indians.
About the Israeli couscous, it's not that hard to find. It takes longer to cook than the more usual couscous (Gentile couscous?) because there's that browning step and then a twelve-minute cooking time. But worth it.
The boys and I will make the most of this last gasp of summer by taking the train to the city (That would be Philadelphia.) We'll go to the Reading Terminal Market to eat at the Down Home Diner, and make our ritual pilgrimage to Franklin Square for miniature golf among small replicas of Philadelphia landmarks. And the highlight of the day for Jack and Will? A visit to Daddy's cubicle. We think someone has been reading too much Dilbert.