to dip or not to dip

My ten year hiatus from lap swimming ended abruptly when I decided to start training for a triathlon. It was on my life list and I was feeling fitter than ever, and so this winter I put my ideals into gear for a dose of cold hard reality. And cold swimming pools on early snow-dusted mornings.

Not long after that I started Fresh Cracked Pepper. Now that I think about it, this sudden intersection seems perfectly obvious. As I have lately discovered, almost nothing makes you hungrier than forty five minutes flailing around in a big vat of water. I don’t know why swimming causes such a specific type of hunger, considering the loss of appetite that occurs after running or cycling. I suspect it has something to do with body temperature, but I’m content to roll with the blissful ignorance.

I love the cool slippery texture shock of jumping into a new element, the exhilaration of blood pulsing outward to propel heavy limbs, the desperate gulps of breath to sustain floatation, survival even. And then there is the onset of a pervasive emptiness, a hunger felt from the fourth toenail up to the left collarbone, and everywhere in between. I challenge any restaurant billboard to do that.

Naturally, when I finished today’s swim my breakfast seemed about as recent as the invention of fire. Did I even eat this morning? Oh yeah, porridge. And an orange. And a latte. Hello? Stomach? Satiety? Silence — no answer but a low rumble. More, give me more. This was an argument I was happy to lose.

I’ve been craving crunch lately. This is nothing special however, given that I’d probably choose crackers over caviar, pretzels over panettone, tortilla chips over truffles. (Ok, maybe the last one is pushing it.) I’ve always been a crunchophile.

Recent cravings for biscotti inspired me to augment my post-swim lunch with a little dose of la dolce vita. And this one I can promise you, is truly a slice of the sweet life. Not only is this recipe simple, it’s actually a healthy and traditional. With no oil, butter or shortening, it mirrors the traditional Italian more closely technique than many recent versions.

Don’t let biscotti’s bad rap stop you from trying these endearing biscuits. I promise you it’s not their fault. In fact, I blame their tragic fate on big coffee companies who pedal varieties done so poorly no one would feel them to the dogs waiting outside. Sorry guys, but even your best 6$ latte can’t redeem those cellophane-wrapped logs of petrified dough. Thanks to the Wednesday Chef, the true biscotti fairy paid me a long overdue visit this afternoon. Full of just-chewy centers edged with crispness, our acquaintance was renewed with gingery vigor.

And then I was ready for lunch.

Continue reading