It’s two days later and now I drain the syrup again into a saucepan. I bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to medium for 8 minutes, then pour it back over the half-confit-ed ginger in the bowl. Cover it. Wait 2 more days. More sleeping. More praying my kitchen isn’t too cold and 5 days of my life and hours of my peeling and chopping efforts have not been for naught.
This is the test. I somehow managed to get through the past 2 days, but can I do it again? Can you learn patience? Does having done it once make it easier?
Maybe it’s like getting your heart broken — it still hurts every time, but maybe the hurt is mellower.
Maybe it’s like the ginger after each boiling in Part 1 — you want the piquancy because it reminds you that you’re alive, that you feel something. So two more days of patience and masochism.
Or maybe it’s like fear — you can learn not to think about it. It’s rare you actually stop being afraid. Fear is rational. You should be afraid of falling from a height. That’s what keeps you from doing stupid things, but you still probably peer over high railings, hike mountains or crags, and seek out the best view. The return might be worth it.
Patience, too, has its returns — delayed gratification, expectation, anticipation…and in the case of ginger, the practical justification that the finished product will be better than the original. Raw ginger versus confit-ed ginger. There’s really no comparison. Even sweetened or candied ginger isn’t the same. The confit syrup is like honey instead of sugar granules, with so much more flavour involved. Ginger confit becomes a treat that sneaks slowly into your sinuses, lets you marvel at its beauty, and then on the 10th bite takes control of your whole body, starting in your head and working its way down. It’s nothing like an ice cream headache, and nothing like wasabi. You don’t want the burn, you want the sweet sharpness that came before in bites 1 through 9, but you’ve gone past that now. It’s the most surprising dessert that pounces unexpectedly. Or maybe a better way to understand it is that it’s 9 bites in heaven before the cloud gets pulled out from under you and you fall into something fiery.
So how do you re-ascend?
…until your tongue forgets why you burned. Until your mouth forgets why you had to stop chewing. Until you forget how far you fell. Until your heart forgets how it was hurt. 30 minutes? A few hours? A day?
Never forgive the ginger. Forgiveness isn’t a natural reaction. Not forgiving is supposed to keep you from getting hurt again. You can, however, forget, which is beyond your control and just as dangerous as stepping out a little too far on that ledge to watch the sunset. Day will turn into night whether you see its last golden rays or not, so maybe you should just stay close to solid ground. But sometimes forgetting is good. It lets you enjoy again the sweetness before the burn. The burn will inevitably come, but you live in blissful ignorance for 9 bites. Just long enough to maybe make it worth it.