There's a rush of activity the first part of fall that doesn't slow down until just before Thanksgiving, it seems. The work day might be longer than eight hours, there might be a committee meeting at night or a concert to attend. On those nights, it's fast food.
Not the kind of fast food that piles on the pounds and clogs the arteries (although we did visit a McDonald's in France, just to see how different it would be. It wasn't, really, unless you count the addition of Croque McDo to the otherwise familiar menu).
No I am talking about a cobbled together meal, something like the one Ruth Reichl makes when she visits a friend's apartment in "Comfort Me With Apples." She took a stale baguette, an egg and perhaps an apple and some cheese to create a small feast, saying she felt like MFK (whom I seem to recall did something with a heel of celery. . .)
Anyway, these are humble little meals created from whatever ingredients are at hand. It might be a hunk of grainy whole-wheat bread with a tomato, dab of cream cheese and some green onion or it might be leftover vegetables tossed with cheese and almonds and reheated in the microwave.
More often than not, the meals involve onions and tomatoes, which are always on hand; cheese, a leftover piece of meat and a vegetable. I might reach in the freezer and pull out a single serving of rice, frozen in a zippered plastic bag or a serving of soup from last spring. I might top whatever it is with crumbs from the bottom of a nearly finished bag of taco chips.
I find these meals oddly comforting. Odd may be the operative word: Sometimes the food pairings are unusual. But it's comforting to know I am using up leftovers. I am certain there is a French frugality gene and I have it - I hate to waste anything in the kitchen.
Sometimes the flavor of these strange combinations is a fabulous gift. I vow to try make the meal again. But I usually forget all about it.
Too bad, because I think these fast food meals offer a way of looking at the things I eat a little differently.
I like that.