The Portobello Needs to be Diced

I am alone in Spokane, fending for myself. There is still six inches of snow on the ground. There is a heighten sense for the need to find warmth and food. I have a really nice, comfortable room, but I am in search of food.

Of course this is more than just a travelogue. The take-away is finding the analogy that lays deeper.

I find a grill with lots of hanging lights, giving a warm holiday sort of vibe. And it doesn’t disappoint. It has a varied menu with interesting sandwiches, appetizers and entrees. I’m thinking that my red meat quota for the week is done, and the fish or chicken doesn’t grab me. So, it is either Mac & Cheese or the Portobello Parmesan. I go with the Parmesan. The soup was a tomato basil that made me want a grilled cheese sandwich, but I must accept the Parmesan instead.

It’s funny how some “parings” are based upon tradition and personal life experience. Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese is probably the most general comfort food that exists. But I’m only half comfortable.

The Parmesan comes in a bowl with a side of baby broccoli. The broccoli was first rate. The bowl was a challenge. On the plate, behind the bowl, was the largest steak knife that I’ve ever seen outside the kitchen. It could have been presented with its own sheath. Hmm, I didn’t order steak, I ordered the mushroom.

Hiding below the marinara was the mushroom. It neatly covered the mozzarella and pasta, being exactly the size of the bowl. I first tried the fork, but the mushroom completely blocked me, only allowing a thin taste of the marinara. It was good, but I needed the mozzerela and the pasta. I also needed the mushroom. I viewed the steak knife with new appreciation.

After briefly considering lifting the mushroom up to scoop the delicious underneath, I picked up the knife, tested the sharpness, and prepared to go to work. It was a disaster.

This mushroom was grilled wonderfully, but it was also resilient to attack. The more pressure I exerted, the more it slid out of the way, causing pasta, marinara and mozzarella to be displaced almost like an eruption. After many tries to cut the mushroom into manageable bites I gave up. I couldn’t see the mushroom anymore, it was buried and laying at the bottom of the bowl.

Not giving up on my consumption, I exchanged the knife with my fork. The broccoli was handled, the Parmesan was eaten. And here is the analogy. Because the mushroom was not professional diced, the pieces that I could fork were larger than normal. The mouthful was at times mostly Portobello, at other times is was pasta and mozzarella, rarely was it the balanced portions were the taste was designed. In the end I ran out of mushroom and the rest of the Parmesan was left uneaten.

Why wasn’t the mushroom diced before serving? The chef was trapped into the cute and creative “covering” quality of the mushroom. True, dicing was also another step, but should I ever order a grilled portobello again, I will ask for the dicing.

Don’t let style or coincidence take you away from the original intent.

(Okay, so maybe at my age I need my steak cut by the chef as well.)

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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