My wife loves quesadillas, not the fancy ones, just a plain cheese quesadilla. For the last 11 years, I have always been the one who has made them for her. Most of the time she tells me I have once again achieved the perfect state of crunchiness on both sides. Once sliced in half and sometimes served with sides of sour cream and salsa, she begins the experience of eating and savoring them, commenting on the crunch factor and the type of cheese used (cheddar is always better.
This has been the process until the other night. She was hungry and I was tired and trying to finish a project. She was craving a quesadilla and so I suggested she make one herself. For those of you who know us, Zoe making anything that does not involve the microwave or toaster is a rare and unusual experience. So after being talked through the process, she embarked into the kitchen to make her quesadilla. A few minutes later, she returned quesadilla in hand and not happy with the crunch factor. “What’s wrong?” I asked her. “They’re not crunchy enough.” What kept them from achieving the perfect state of crunchiness was her lack of patience.
To be honest, I am not sure that before that moment I was consciously aware of how important patience has been every time I have made them. As I thought about it though, I realized I have usually waited patiently for the tortillas to achieve the perfect state of crispness before turning them and ultimately serving them. The reality is that the preparation of many foods requires patience. We have to be patient while we wait for bread dough to rise, bagels, or any other bread, to toast, water to boil, etc. My grandmother used to say that a watched pot never boils. That’s not quite true, eventually it does, but sometimes it can feel as if it is never going to boil as one sits there and watches it.
This lack of patience in the kitchen is something I have seen in my own cooking from time to time and even in professional chefs, especially when they are in a cooking competition. I have seen people open the door to the oven numerous times to check on a cake or other baked good, each time releasing the heat and delaying the cooking time. Sometimes, we need to have faith that what we are baking is going to bake, that the water will boil, that the bagel will toast and yes the quesadilla will achieve the perfect crunch factor in its own time.
It seems to me that the hardest part is the waiting game. It is that sense of what do I do in the meantime, while the quesadilla is crisping or the water is coming to a boil. Sitting there waiting for it the tortillas to crisp can be the longest 15 minutes, if I am starting with a cold pan, if all I am doing is sitting there. So I use that time to connect with a friend, read a few pages from a book or some other thing to fill the time until they are done.
One of the things that can help a quesadilla crisp faster is when you start with a hot pan. It is no different then how professional chefs say to put your meat in a hot pan so it gets a good sear. Putting your tortillas on a hot pan will help them crisp faster then putting them in a cold pan. In either case, you still have to wait for something for the pan to heat and/or the tortillas to crisp.
Isn’t that how life is in some respects? All that we are waiting for in our lives will come into being, but we must receive it with an open heart, soul, and mind. When we are prepared (preheated), it seems to arrive in our lives faster then when mind, body, and soul are not open (unheated) and ready to receive the gifts life has to bring.