My friend Lisa makes the most amazing risotto. After many dinners of it at her house, watching her make it, A few years ago I stepped up and made it myself.
Risotto is creamy, and salty, and cheesy and wonderful. But, that's not what I really like about it. what I really like is the method to make it. Risotto is not hard, but it does require patience. And stirring. Lots and lots of stirring. When I'm stressed out, one of the things I like to do is cook. The methodical tap that the knife makes hitting the cutting board to chop the onions, the sizzle of the butter and olive oil in the pan. I can imagine the scent of the beginnings of every good dinner; onions and garlic sweating away. And then the rice, toasting a little, to infuse a nutty taste, and the stock, in another pot, barely simmering away, waiting to be incorporated, ladleful by ladleful. The worn wooden spoon drawing circles in the cooking rice, as it absorbs the hot stock. waiting, waiting, more stock, stirring stirring stirring. The rainfall of cheese, melting into the pan, and then, a scoop of the comforting dish steaming, as I blow on it a little, before I take the first bite.
Sometimes I add roasted sweet potatoes, sometimes sausage, occasionally veggies. But it always begins with the rice and the pot, and the slow, slow stirring.
See also: (the zen of caramel sauce)