18 September 2006

Stress Relief for Cubists

If you were a Cubist painter in the early twentieth century, you probably spent time reducing objects into basic geometric shapes and reassembling them on the canvas, utilizing a two-dimensional artistic medium to present a three-dimensional view.

I like to think of myself as a Cubist, but for a different reason, and that reason is just that I like squares.

In junior high, instead of socializing with other teens or practicing my violin, I played Tetris. I spent hours and hours and hours trying to fit shapes made with squares into holes made from the absence of shapes made with squares.
Also, when teachers told me to circle something on a worksheet, would I circle it? No. Rebel that I was, I would put a square or rectangle around it instead.
I even developed my own block-letter font:

Years later, I maintain my affection for all things square by coming home from work and commencing to chop things up into cubes. I obtain copious amounts of glee from cubing potatoes, hard cheese, and occasionally raw lamb meat.

Chopping objects into squares can provide stress relief for self-proclaimed Cubists like me. Similarly, abstract expressionists might find inner peace by throwing raw eggs at walls in order to experience the pure emotion of the color yellow. If one is in a less destructive mood, smearing an entire countertop with chocolate icing has the same soothing effect.

Perhaps you are a Cubist and you don’t even know it. Next time you are feeling anxious and overwhelmed by the trammels of everyday life, and you only have 34 cents, which is not enough money for a vacation or even a massage, but does happen to be enough money for a potato, try chopping that potato into squares and see if you feel better afterwards.

Start with slicing a side off of the potato to give you a flat surface.
Place the potato on the flat side and continue to slice off the rounded edges, until you are left with a block of potato. Blockato.

Cut the blockato lengthwise into rectangles about one centimeter wide. Turn the blockato on the next side and cut lengthwise again. You should have long rectangles that look like square French fries. Fun!

Now cut the blockato crosswise, so the long rectangles are divided into squares.
Hooray, happy potato cubes!
Do you think I am a nerd?


Peter S. said...

What a charming way to pass the cold winter months. Is there a Flickr tag for "blockato" yet? And speaking of that, how ri-damn-diculously cold is it today?

Thanks, Erielle. "Therielle."

LMGM said...

Erielle, embrace your nerdiness! Cubes are sexy, anyway. I cube manchego cheese and it's delightful. And nothing is more satisfying than turning an onion or a cucumber into perfectly even, tiny cubes. Then I eat 'em. signed, Luis in France.

LB said...

Cubes are so satisfying. :-)

Tea said...

Hey, just wanted to say, I love your blog! I look for updates every now and then and laugh my head off the whole time and then try your yummy recipes. Keep up the good work.

This entry struck home because my 5 year old son appears to be a cubist. He has a definite affinity for all things square shaped. Anyway, have you heard of the board game Blokus? We love it around here and it is all about shapes and the absence of shapes - I bet you would be a Blokus superstar!

Erielle said...

Peter S.
You do know that the colder it gets, the closer we get to November, and you know what's happening in November.............
I'm gonna kick yours!

Nerds are totally the happiest people alive!
Hope you are not working too hard over there in Paris and the not woring hard leaves you lots of chances to enjoy the cuisine.

lb~ They sure are, aren't they?

Tea~ I'm glad you enjoy fancytoast! Thanks for the lead on Blokus. I'll do an internet search for it right now and hopefully find a free download. Yay! More square things! As for your little cubist, just wait until he turns an acceptable knife-wielding age and see what sort of food he starts making...

t0rie said...

Ahhh.. How refreshing to know I'm not alone. I love your writing - but what did you make out of that blockato, looks like the beginning of Cubist Patates Bravas...

That reminds me, I need to order some of these Perfect Square Ice Cube trays. You might like them, too.

Toni said...

Did you ever try shaping cubes with play-doh? It is so relaxing. Just make little dice between your fingers and all your worries will fade away.

Erielle said...

Ha ha...cubist potates bravas...I made Cubist potato and chorizo empanadas. The cubing was rather unecessary because you just end up smushing the cubes into a paste for the filling, but I just can't help myself.
The empanadas turned out rather ugly so I need to make them again before I post the recipe. Soon.

I haven't tried cubing, play-doh, but I have tried shaping cubes with the crustless part of Wonderbread, which brings back another junior high memory of me and my best friend making Wonderbread cubes inside an ALF tent.

Anonymous said...

Erielle- How I remember Tetris, I could play it for hours. Maybe I'm a closet cubist. I agree cubes are sexy, I have cubed many potato in my time. Nice blog, reading this makes me miss you guys sooooo much. Take care,

jenjen said...

food geeks are the best! You are a pretty cool food nerd in my opinion. Cube to your heart's content.

emily said...

so did you cook the potato cubes? bake them? broil them? pan fry them?

i once made breakfast hash with teeny tiny cubes of carrots and potatoes. it was almost too pretty to eat, those little squares of yummyness.

Erielle said...

Caren~ We miss you too!

Jen~ Thanks! I love being a nerd.

Emily~ I boiled them for a few minutes, and then ironically, I smashed half of them up into a paste and put the paste and the cubes into potato and chorizo empanadas, which I got mad at for not turning out prettier.