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  • My wife loves to make gravies and sauces and soups out of the burnt stuff on the bottom of a pan after cooking up meat or veggies. It's a technique called "deglazing" the pan -- and after looking it up, I have found that the carmelized stuff left behind in a pan is called "syk" (a French word that sounds like "sick") or, sometimes incorrectly, "fond".

    My wife -- a German national who learned to cook "the old way" from her grandmother -- just calls this stuff the "gookies".

    And she definitely has a "fond"-ness for the gookies. Sometimes so much that I think she cooks things for me that she has no intention of eating, just as an excuse to make gookies for herself.

    Over the Christmas holiday, while cooking up some chopped onions, a wonderful pattern was left in the bottom of the pan and she liked it so much that she called me into the kitchen, just so we could both marvel over the "perfect" patterns burned in the bottom of the pan.

    In my eyes, these things are kind of gross. Burnt bits of stuff that instantly bring to mind memories of soap and steel wool.

    But her wonder and zeal about this sort of thing reminded me that the art of everyday life is really all around us, and all we need to do is pay attention to it. Her talent for transforming gookies to gravies, too, is an art form, and considering how good it tastes, nothing short of miraculous.

    Usually, I'd rather not think about what gross and gookie bits go into the foods I ingest.

    But in this case I got my camera and took the attached photo. It turned out pretty neat, looking something like a planet or a zen object. But she's the real artist here.

    ***
    "There's nothing easier or quicker to make than a good little sauce. All you need is a pan to deglaze (the one you roasted your bird in), and some liquid — wine or stock; even water will do in a pinch. The pan will still have all the tasty brown bits of meat and caramelized stuff clinging to it." -- Leslie Brenner, "Deglazing: It Works Like Magic." LA TIMES 11.17.2004
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