The Miss Scarlet of Risottos

Speaking of things to eat with a spoon, there’s risotto. It’s possibly my favourite thing in the world to cook (all that peaceful stirring). It’s tea-and-sympathy in starch-and-fat form. And every time I have it I’m ready to leap into bed afterwards and sleep for eight hours.

So in the last week of Lustful February I’ve tried to come up with a risotto that speaks of passion, that excites the eye and strokes the palate for the sweet hour (if that) between dinner and deep repose. The result is a flaming red beet, red onion, red wine concoction that’s pretty sexy if I must say so. I added a bit of dry-cured duck breast for a tinge of smokiness (actually, I felt compelled to buy it after an elderly gentleman at Fairway saw me holding the package and complimented my taste in cured meats). You could substitute a few slices of pancetta, or bacon, or leave it in vegetarian bliss.

Shucking for Novices

There’s a learning curve here, so don’t be afraid. It took me about six oysters and a few choice vocabulary words to get the hang of shucking. Take your time and persevere.

If you’re choosing your own oysters by hand, select ones that feel heavy and full. Tap the shell firmly with your fingernail. This should make the oyster close up tightly. Don’t buy a hollow-sounding oyster, or one with a cracked or gaping shell. The smaller an oyster is for its variety, the tenderer its flesh will be.

Carnal Embrace

Septimus, what is carnal embrace?

Carnal embrace is the practice of throwing one’s arms around a side of beef.

Tom Stoppard, Arcadia

So here I embark on a month-long exploration of the deadly sin of Lust as it is evoked, expressed, encouraged, and pursued through food and drink. Long hours of practical research were involved, and I hope you enjoy the fruits of my endeavor.

But before fruit comes flesh. Few foods so vividly conjure the animal passions as red meat. When we lust, it’s the flesh of another we’re after for the satisfaction of our own, and when we eat meat, we’re reminded of our own carnality. That reminder is particularly vivid when the meat is served raw in thrillingly lurid red ribbons, or quickly seared over a high flame–for who hasn’t once felt similarly seared by desire? There’s even some sharing of vocabulary between boudoir and butcher-shop: consider, after all, the word beefcake.