A bay leaf.
The recipe called for a bay leaf.
Problem was I had no idea what a bay leaf looked like. I had never even heard of it before. When I had run my finger down the ingredients so I could start a grocery list, I thought I had read it wrong.
A bay leaf? Surely a leaf didn’t belong in a stew...
Because that’s what I was wanting to make. A stew for the Crock Pot. It’s called Beef Bourguignon. To be honest I don’t even know how to pronounce bourguignon (ber-gun-yun?). But the picture that accompanied the recipe looked good. And plus, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to cook more. So I broke my rule of not making anything with more than five ingredients and decided to go for this. I WOULD make the stew. Well, beef bour—whatever.
I went to the grocery store in search of the elusive bay leaf. I expected to find it right away. In my mind there would be a tiny stand with the words “Get Yer Bay Leaves!” written in big black letters on a sign above it. But there was no stand.
And there was no bay leaf, apparently.
I searched and searched.
“Bay leaf, bay leaf,” I muttered. I probably looked like a crazy person. What’s that woman with the unkempt hair whispering about a bay leaf for?
I found some rosemary and thought I was getting close. Rosemary is a spice, yes? And so was a bay leaf. Right? Sort of? I pawed the area and nearly touched a turnip. Yuck. I definitely would never make something with a turnip in it.
“Bay leaf,” I said again as though I expected one to morph in front of me.
I went down another aisle. The one with all the jarred spices.
“Bay leaf.” I scanned the bottles of stuff that I’d probably never use. I marveled at all the spices. Maybe I should use more spices. I should branch out from the usual salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Sometimes if I’m feeling extra bold I’ll go for some Paprika.
“Huh?” An old man who had sidled up beside me was tossing me a perplexed look. Maybe he thought I was calling him a bay leaf. For all he knew, maybe it was the latest insult.
“I’m just looking for the bay leaves,” I explained with an isn’t-that-hilarious shrug.
He blinked at me as though I were an idiot. “Over there. In the jar. The spices are in alphabetical order you know.”
Were they? Oh.
“Thank you,” I said and then I spotted them.
The bay leaves.
What do they even smell like? I shook the jar once, twice, and the old man shot me one last bewildered stare before walking off.
I also had to buy Burgundy wine for the stew. Or rather, the beef bourguignon. You know what, I’m just going to call it a stew. The other word is a pain to type out.
The thing is, I don’t drink wine. I know, weird. I do like alcoholic fruity drinks though. It took me awhile to find the Burgundy wine because I don’t drink the stuff. Oh, I found all the white wine but no Burgundy wine.
I almost gave up on the recipe. It was already starting to give me a headache and I hadn’t even started on it yet. But I refused to give up. I eventually found the Burgundy wine (by the Chianti, which made me think of that line in Silence of the Lambs which in turn gave me nightmares…)
Then I woke up this morning all prepared to make the stew. I gathered all my ingredients. The first step was to cook the bacon. I could do that.
“What you want to do first is cook the bacon,” I said, flashing a make believe camera a smile. Sometimes I like to pretend that I’m on a cooking show. Which is ironic because I can’t cook. I should be on that one show on the Food Network called Worst Cooks in America. I’d say into the camera, “And I didn’t even know what a bay leaf was for God’s sake!”
I poured the Burgundy wine in—how long does it stay good, by the way? I’d hate to have to throw the rest out. Or maybe I could knock on my neighbor’s doors and be all, “Do you like wine? You do? Then here is some leftover Burgundy wine, just for you!”
And are you curious about the bay leaf?
Aren’t they cute? These are the right bay leaves, right? I was taken aback when I saw TURKISH bay leaves. I didn't need American ones, did I?
The stew smells good so far. I'll update my Twitter and say how it turned out.
Let us pray that it's edible.