Why, oh why, do I never learn from past experiences? I know my husband Mike doesn't like celery. I know that he has the supertaster-like ability to detect even a single molecule of celery in anything I cook. So why did I add celery leaves to my black bean soup? Because Mario Batali told me to.
Last year I read Heat, Bill Buford's memoir of working at Babbo, one of Mario Batali's restaurants. He describes Mario railing against the kitchen staff when they discard the leafy trimmings from the celery. He'd bellow something like "These make excellent stock!" as he plucked them from the garbage and threw them back onto the cutting boards. So I figured if celery leaves were good enough for Mario Batali, they'd be good enough for the Foley family.
You know how if you you chop celery up and add it to a stock it'll impart a subtle celery flavor? Well, the leaves lend an intense celery flavor. Even though I removed the leaves before I puréed the soup, it was like being smacked across the mouth with a bunch of celery. The soup just reeked of celery.
Mike didn't even get the spoon to his mouth. "Did you put celery in this?" he asked. "Ummm," I mumbled, wondering if I could get away with telling him some white lie about aromatics. Then the steam drifted from the top of my bowl and found its way into my nostrils. "A little," I confessed. That was the first time I ever saw Mike shove a bowl across the table. "I can't eat this."
As ever, I enjoyed my own cooking and drank every drop of that soup. Now all I have to do is eat two more quarts of it.