This week I could have gone with a number of V foods (vanilla, vegetables, vegetable juice, vodka, veal, venison, etc.), but the word I kept coming back to is versatility: the state or quality of being versatile. The Merriam Webster online dictionary offers four definitions of versatile: [a] changing or fluctuating readily, [b] embracing a variety of subjects, fields, or skills, [c] capable of turning forward or backward or moving laterally and up and down and [d] having many uses or applications.
Versatility is such an important quality in life whether it is in working with ingredients or in one’s spiritual life. So often, we become familiar with one way of preparing something, like bacon, that we do not recognize the versatility of the ingredient and the numerous things, which can be done with it. When we begin to focus on the flavors of the ingredient, rather than the ingredient itself, we open our minds up to new possibilities. This is in part what chefs like Theresa Gilliam are getting at when they create cookbooks based on a single ingredient, such as her new cookbook Bacon 24/Seven. In an interview she did on her book, she said that one of the most unusual dishes she and her co-author created was Bacon Baklava. She said, “It’s unusual enough that a lot of people might not have tried that flavor combination. It is actually a very traditional baklava recipe. You just add the bacon to the ground nuts mixture. The bacon balances to the honey syrup and the salty nuts which are the sweet and savory.”