Imagine a time a long, long time ago. I'm speaking of the days long before Wegman's Supermarkets existed. Before craft beer. Before spring rolls, sushi, and edamame... even before organic foods were spoken of as mainstream products.
The times to which I allude, were days where the main spices used by my dad's family (who hailed from England) were salt and pepper. Butter was the predominant condiment, and the main starch - potatoes.
In grade school, my dad tried spaghetti and meatballs for the first time at a neighbor's house and considered it an exotic treat. As crazy as it sounds, even pasta and red tomato sauce was uncommon to him in those days.
But after a while, I must admit it felt somewhat liberating. Free of the need to create something gourmet on a nightly basis, I cooked simple foods in a simple manner. In some ways, the taste of the individual components shined, unimpeded by intrusive counterparts. Oddly, less laborious preparation meant more time to savor the food. Less cleanup, less stress, more time for conversation.
I can't say I'll continue cooking this way on a continuous basis, but it was nice departure from my typical style. And if by chance a rogue piece of Brie or Parmagiano Reggiano ends up in the grilled cheese, I'm not complaining and definitely not telling dad!