Zest for Life

I know it’s odd but I have a favorite kitchen utensil.

You might think its some souped up high speed mixer or a fancy outdoor grill with all kinds of fire breathing wizardry. My favorite tool isn’t the expensive food processor or even the convection oven with the nifty rotisserie built in to the wall.

Nope…just a zester.

Technically it’s a microplane and you see all the Food Network stars from using them. Based on a wood working plane, this simple ten dollar gadget is my humble helper allowing me to separate citrus fruit from the zest.

I love zesting because it allows me to add an incredible amount of flavor to food with something you might ordinarily waste or toss down the disposal. The extraordinary oil from the skin and the flavor in the pith is nothing short of spectacular.

Zesting helps me create a flavor explosion from the by rubbing against the skin of a lemon, lime or orange. Adding orange zest to grouper with fresh ginger brings out the sweet flavor of the fish. Grating lemon zest into a salad makes something everyday taste like an especially healthy and uplifting event. Even zesting lime over quesadillas gives a wonderful balance between the four cheese blend with that zippy little citrus tang.

Sometimes you can find zest in the simplest things in life.

Zest is zing that comes from the funny remark of my daughter telling the world of Facebook that her mom didn’t know if LL Cool J and Usher is the same person. Zest comes from my mother remembering in precise detail events from my childhood – five decades ago that brings a smile to my face and tears to my eye.

Zest is the sweet sound of tender tenor sax coming from Coltrane on an album I forgot about on my iPod. Or, it’s the soft and delicate feel of the fur on the top of the head of Mango, our reddish orange 15 year old Persian.

Zest is the exquisite liquid turquoise color in a silk sarong that my wife bought on Maui. Or the nectar-like aroma from anniversary long-stem roses that sit behind closed doors to keep the scent in and the cats out.

Zest is the effervescence that brings fizz to an ordinary moment. When we are aware -we can find these pithy moments. The trick is seeing, hearing, smelling, touching or tasting the essences of a passing second.  

The recipe is simple. Just scrape beneath the surface.

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