My husband, Matt, and I were part of a monthly cooking group consisting of four couples. We cooked meals from American regions and around the world and called it International Night or I-Night. The men were high school pals who kept their friendships while tumbling into adulthood. We met, cooked, ate, and laugh for almost 25 years. I collected lots of gadgets, culinary tricks, and a few good stories.
When Matt and I hosted East End Long Island night, duck had to be on the menu. Back in the day, Long Island duck was a booming industry. The duck farms are not as plentiful as they were just a generation ago, but I was fortunate to find a poultry farm not too far from my house. I could order a fresh duck. I never cooked a duck before. It takes a bit more care and preparation to roast a fresh duck. The culinary challenge was set.
I had to order the duck in person, at least three days before I needed it. I walked onto the premises that had geese, chickens, and ducks waddling around. It could be argued as free-range poultry, but it felt more like a petting zoo. Inside the market, there were several huge hares nibbling alfalfa in stacked cages. Cute.
Now, I am a meat eater. I make no apology for preferring meat over plant-based foods. These animals had been domesticated and bred for the sole purpose of being consumed. I ordered a ten-pound duck.
I was at the farm first thing on the designated morning. I waited for my turn watching the tremendously fluffy bunnies nibble on their never ending supply of alfalfa. When my number was called, the cashier asked me to come back in two hours. The drake was eating its breakfast. How could I deny the duck his last meal? I left to complete errands and came back at the designated time.
I was feeling too many feelings over these farmed birds and rabbits. I placed the bag in my kitchen sink and unwrapped the evening’s meal. Uh-boy—the duck’s head and feet were still attached! It seemed to be was smiling at me. I passed off the cooking challenge to Matt.
Matt dressed and roasted the duck to perfection. I think I cooked up fabulous string beans and my table looked festive. The dinner was a success.
Welcome to my Blogging A-Z April 2018 Challenge. My theme is Food Stories Remembered because there is always a story when food is involved. I consider myself a good home cook with a great appetite for hearty food. I have witnessed the creation of favorite recipes in friends’ kitchens and have learned from the best—my mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law. Recipes may be included. I am remaining uncommitted on this because when I cook, I seldom measure. If you try any of my recipes, you are cooking at your own risk. Grab a glass of wine. Hope you’re hungry!
Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The memoir is a wimpy patient’s journey through her first year of breast cancer treatment.