To a cook, food is a kaleidoscope of things: art, science, history, identity, religion. Sometimes food is just fuel; sometimes life itself. Every once in a while we encounter a food that is pure magic.
Take burrata, for instance: an impossibly thin skin of mozzarella encapsulating a filling of cream and curds. Surely (I thought), it's the work of an otherworldly being; the conjuring of a generous sorcerer, or a sleight of hand by a milk magician with an enormous heart.
I said as much (or something like it) to a complete stranger upon tasting a particularly ethereal specimen, to which he replied with a humble "thank you". It took me a moment to understand that he was telling me that he had made the burrata himself, perhaps because his earthliness threw me off. But after listening to him describe the process with reverence and passion, while the whole time his deft hands traced the motions, I knew that I was at least half right.
If a mere mortal can make burrata, can we cooks do anything to make it better? To subject it to temperature or tools would only destroy its texture— and burrata is all about texture, the flavor is only as good as the milk from which it's made. No, the best we can do is to pair it foods that will act like magician's assistants, whose role is to enhance the performance of the magician.
My peaches were a disappointment this year. The ones that didn't rot on the tree weren't even worth picking. After the magic of last years harvest, I want to blame it on the incessant rain but that wouldn't explain why the local peaches weren't so affected. In fact, the ones I picked up at the farmer's market displayed remarkable balance and aroma for such a wet year. They made a wonderful fresh peach and mascarpone tart, flecked with spicy, citrusy Agastache "Desert Sunrise" flowers, but paired with burrata, as they are here, the dish was enchanting.