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The Chess Game of Life: and a Sole Meunière Recipe

Yesterday, a colleague of mine told a joke. He said that a friend of his recently had dinner with Garry Kasparov, and that his friend had a miserable time. He asked Kasparov to pass the salt, and it took him forty-five minutes.

This was on my mind when I went shopping this afternoon. I was planning on making flounder for the girls, and sole meunière for myself. My daughters don’t appreciate the sauce (in fact, quite foolishly, they spurn it in the earnest way that only a three or five year old can), but I not only like it, I need it. Flounder is one fish I would never make if I were just making dinner for myself.

I like a variation on the sauce—I skip the lemon, use white wine, and add tarragon, and I needed to buy the herb. It was late in the day, but I was confident that I could find a bunch at the Park Slope Food Coop. Pinta and I had just been at my nephew’s first-birthday celebration, in Fort Greene Park, and she was asleep in the stroller, having spent her time earlier in the day eating potato chips and cake when she would otherwise have been napping.

At the party, I met another dad who cooks. He said one of the things that drove him crazy was wasting food. He paid particular attention to shopping in a smart fashion. I do my best not to waste food, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to tossing out the odd bag of untouched but spoiled spinach more often than I would like. Wasting herbs, though, is one thing I can’t stand.

The sole meunière would consume about half of the tarragon, so when I picked the package up off the shelf, I thought of what else I could use it with. Beets came instantly to mind. I love them with a tarragon vinaigrette. So I bought I a bunch of those too. Now, at least, I know that the tarragon won’t shrivel, dry up, and have to be tossed in a week.

I’d like to shop better and never have to throw anything out. It’s a moral and a financial issue to waste food.  Unfortunately, I’m not very good at planning, and every time I try to do a better job, I end up like Kasparov at dinner. It takes me three-quarters of an hour to add an item to my shopping list. So I just buy what I need (or at least think I need), and hope for the best.

Here’s my fish recipe. I’ll post the beet recipe soon.


Sole Meunière

  • 1 lb fluke or other flounder
  • 1 cup flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon tarragon, or to taste


            Wash and chop the tarragon.

            Heat a cast-iron frying pan and add some olive oil.

            Put the flour on a wide plate and season with salt and pepper.

            Dredge the fish fillets through the flour and shake off any excess.

            Saute the fillets about two minutes per side, or until browned a bit on each side, depending on             thickness.

            Set the fillets aside, and add the butter to the pan. Heat it until it bubbles, then add the wine, and the             tarragon. Reduce until it is the consistency of your preference. Serve over the fish.


            Serves two.


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