Cooking Roti with my Husband (a live story pt2)
“Where is the dough babe?” I am curious to take a photo of the bright yellow dough he’d just mixed up.
“It’s there resting.” Kevin points the pile behind my laptop covered with a wet cotton rag.
I snap an image but it unappealing. Sometimes the journey to great tasting and good looking food isn’t all that interesting.
“It’s time, 1494 divided by 8 Please.”
“Ah, sorry 1494 divided by 8 = 186.75”
I love his mathematical engineer’s precision when it comes to cooking. His approach by nature is designed to replicate perfectly. It’s his attention to mathematical precision that made our restaurant & bar successful from the the back of house perspective. He is methodical while maintaining a poetic essence.
Wanting to capture the poetics of his dough mashing, spreading and glazing I grab my dSLR before the magic happens. He cuts and weights the dough into 8 smaller balls taking his time to be sure the numbers are right. There are Caribbean Mom “enough” measuring in his kitchen. There is only math and rhythm. A rhythm I am sure to break if I don’t capture the shots I want.
8 balls of yellow curry seasoned dough have been cut and are ready. I dress my man in a forrest green apron and instantly he is in the zone. Grabbing a dish of flour and his stainless steel modern rolling pin, Kevin gets to work. He handles the dough with a gentle grip. The kind of grip that when is used on a woman assures every man in a crowded room that she is his. Yet lets her know he is hers.
He doesn’t pound the dough rather he pats it firmly applying a level of pressure that works the dough as if the two were dancing. Just enough pressure to indicate to the dough he’d like it to move in a specific direction. The dough submits to his gentle demands. He then rolls the pin over the dough massaging it to into a perfectly thin circle. He is in the zone. I can see the world around him have faded away like a masseuse who has found the knots of of their client and endeavored not to stop until they’ve worked out the tension.
Thinned to his specification, he runs a spoon of freshly melted vegan butter over the surface of the dough. He uses a plant based butter, because our Caribbean children are vegan and I am lactose intolerant. He works with us not against us without having to sacrifice flavor or our culture. We couldn’t hope to get such consideration for our Caribbean mothers hell bent on doing things one way and one way alone.
He doesn’t miss an edge of the dough spreading the butter similarly to spreading extra sauce on pizza dough. He makes a quick slice along a quarter of the circle then rolls the doughs along the circumference. Eight perfect spirals of dough are set aside to rest once more. He doesn’t over work his medium. He understands his dough as a living creature. They are in partnership. He sings to it with the warmth of his hands and rhythm of his movement.