x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

In life and with food, the best things can't be rushed

Thirty years later, my rate of consumption is no less extreme – at least to my father, a civilised eater who pauses to consider things and digest them.

Certain milestones, such as a child's first steps, are a double-edged sword. My father loves to tell a story about a time when he brought me along to the hospital to visit a friend recovering from surgery. While the two of them yammered on about the good old days, I made my bad little self at home amid flower arrangements, get well soon cards and a fruit basket. There were fat, green grapes and I wanted them in my mouth. I stuffed my face so full of grapes that it grew distended and I couldn't chew, spit or swallow.

Eventually, my dad noticed my chipmunk cheeks and asked what I had in my mouth. When I tried to respond, grapes shot out like rapid-firing rubber bullets, one after the other, spraying across the room.

Thirty years later, my rate of consumption is no less extreme - at least to my father, a civilised eater who pauses to consider things and digest them, even if they're no more elaborate than a juice box or a shortbread cookie. While my idea of the perfect day involves lots of sitting still, most ordinary days are defined by mundane goals met during odd fits of hyperactivity.

I don't like lukewarm soup or the sound of a plastic fork against styrofoam, but I'll forgo takeout and lunch meetings in favour of taco trucks, which is where the best food in Santa Fe can be found anyway.

In my quirky master's degree programme for oriental medicine, Qigong was a mandatory part of the curriculum. Determined to hate it because it was scheduled during lunch, I'd show up five minutes late and leave five minutes early, rolling my eyes throughout. Half the teachers at the school were sensitive white men who kept long, grey ponytails and drove station wagons covered with bumper stickers, and our Qigong teacher was a prime example of the species. Then one day, he cornered me and told me he found my indifference to the class and my eagerness for dismissal a little disturbing. "You're still too young to understand that speed won't get you anywhere faster," he said.

His scrutiny made me feel awkward, but his Mr Miyagi impression was worse. "Sorry, Sensei," I said. And I avoided him after that but I didn't forget what he said.

Some things, though, simply cannot be rushed. A few weeks ago, I made the most ethereal three-ingredient pistachio meringues for a gluten-free friend's birthday party after realising in a panic that it was a potluck and that my fridge was empty. A couple of egg whites, a little sugar and some pistachios are all it takes.

I found the recipe on Off the Broiler, the food blog of the eGullet Founder Jason Perlow (www.offthebroiler.wordpress.com). Introduced to Perlow by his mother-in-law, these cookies are almost as easy to make as they are to eat - even if you don't have much of a sweet tooth (I might have added a pinch of salt to the recipe). Just don't be hasty like I was and please let them cool before you wrap them in foil or they'll turn into sad, melting pellets of regret.

Nouf Al Qasimi is an Emirati food analyst who cooks and writes in New Mexico

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