The arbitrary pursuit of perfection

By and large, I'm pretty easy going. When the fellow downstairs behaves like a caveman, I breathe deeply and visualize him travelling by local train in Bombay, preferably, the 5:42 Thana slow, suitably squelched between sweaty bodies, with a eunuch or two thrown in for good measure. At the four way stop by Wegman's, I let the silver Mercedes, the Chevy Surburban and even the 1988 Corolla zip past me. I have, on occasion, been known to forego the last m&m in the dispenser.

To summarize, gentle reader, there are times when I radiate easy-going-ness.

I can take life's little annoyances in my stride, but please god, every once in a while, show me something perfect. Show me something that makes me shrug the annoyances away. Yes, there are times, when nothing short of perfection is good enough.

It was in this notoriously nit-picky mood that I stumbled on The Sweet Life: Desserts from The Chanterelle by Kate Zuckerman. This is a book that means business. From the minute, you set eyes on it,you know this is one that has both, style and substance, with plenty to spare.

I glanced at the back flap which has a picture of Kate Zuckerman. Forgive me for meandering, but it is a very well-conceived picture. I tend to trust and respect women who wear very little make up far more than perfectly made up women!! Natural poise is vastly superior to contrived elegance. Their relaxed confidence says to me, "I don't need to dress to impress".

As I glanced at her recipe for Hazelnut shortbread, my capricious imagination did a quick fouetté and the idea for pistachio-cardamom shortbread was born. I will admit that this is not one of the recipes you can whip up on a whim. It was a fair bit of elbow grease. But then again, sometimes nothing short of perfection is good enough.

The results were gratifying. I bow my head in homage to Kate Zuckerman. The strength of this confection is its simplicity. The combination of pistachio and butter is rich. Holds its own and yet, will cavort gracefully with tea or coffee. What brown person can deny pistachio a little cardamom! I put just enough to make it intriguing. Cute little squares, appropriate for gifting and such festive endeavors.


Asha said...

HEHE!! Nice visual of Mumbai train travel nightmare you gave me!;D
I wish you put him there one day!
Book sounds interesting and those cookies are perfectly square!

trupti said...

hahahhahah...I just got a mental picture of the eunuchs clapping their hands and annoying the hell out of your cavman, I can just picture it "zara jhaam ke hila, Jamila"


Hazelbut Shortbread, and your version of Pistachio-Cardamom BOTH sound good..aah yes, I'll have one of each with some good Colombian coffee please.

This brownie loves cardamom!

ServesYouRight said...

Asha - u are so right!! Kate Zuckerman is clearly a perfectionist. She specifies the sizes to a third of an inch!!! So made a little template and used it to cut squares!!!

who has a life

ServesYouRight said...

Trupti - OMG ROTFL - that image is hilarious!!

Yes - our love of cardamom is deeply ingrained :-)


David said...

Been wanting to say it for some time, your photographs are very good. Kind of a Zen like Japanese quality to them, very simple and yet very nice arrangements. Does it take you time to compose them or is it an intuitive flash?

One more cardamom fan here. Chandra has discovered that the old tea Board office in Churchgate (remember?) serves among its many tea varieties a wonderful Kashmiri chai which has a dollop of cardamom in it. Very nice indeed. Of course the true Kashmiri qahwa also has shredded almonds; not too helpful in sweltering Bombay but perhaps just the thing for still cold upstate NY!


Sandeepa said...

They are sure perfect, peaceful pic

ServesYouRight said...


ooh - Kashmiri chai at the Tea Board - how wonderful! Chanda and you should write the 'Insider's guide to Bombay'. Seriously - so many gems tucked away in the city.

Many thanks for the kind words about the picture. I must confess that its not intuitive. Dozens of pictures are discarded. No cookies were harmed in the taking of the picture ;-D

How are your camera adventures coming along? You're the one that got us all started :-)


enjay said...

Oh my God, I can't believe I stumbled on to This googling for Qahwa. Great blog, and a lovely selection of cookbooks.