Am I the last to know about this?
How did I not know?
I kept seeing reference to it here and there.
In my mind it was an old book.
Something that had been around forever.
I'm not sure why I thought that.
Perhaps the title?
An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace
Sounds old-fashioned, doesn't it?
Then I saw it in Appendix II of Michael Pollen's new book, Cooked, and I thought, hmmmm.
What's all the fuss about?
Oh, the fuss is sooooo right.
The fuss is not nearly enough.
I cannot even describe the loveliness of this book.
It's a cookbook. Kind of.
It's a story book. Sorta.
It's a novel and it's non-fiction.
It is, to me, like homesickness.
That's the only way I can find to describe what it feels like to me.
I know that sounds so strange, but it's true.
Listen to this from page 1. (Yes, just the first page.)
"Cooking is both simpler and more necessary than we imagine. It has in recent years come to seem a complication to juggle against other complications, instead of what it can be - a clear path through them."
Or this (she is often so funny in a quiet, unassuming way):
"A ... cooking magazine I picked up recently seemed contrived to scare its readers off. The magazine advertised recipes for ""boil-and-toss pastas"" and "" last-minute omelets"" amid other tips for getting meals to the table quickly. It pretended to make cooking easier, but complicated it instead.
All pasta is "'boil and toss."" A lot of perfectly wonderful meals are ""boil"" alone. You don't need a shortcut for either, but to reserve the three dollars you might have spent on the magazine and use it for buying salt and decent olive oil."
"This book ... doesn't contain ""perfect"" or ""professional"" ways to do anything, because we don't need to be professionals to cook well, any more than we need to be doctors to treat bruises and scrapes: we don't need to shop like chefs or cook like chefs; we need to shop and cook like people learning to cook, like what we are - people who are hungry."
Listen to some chapter titles:
How to Drink to Saints (On hosting.)
How to Weather a Storm (How to cook when there is nothing to cook.)
How to be Tender (Slow cooking.)
And go ahead. Read the last page.
It will make you hungry and a bit weepy for the time that that happened to you.
And it has happened to each of us, hasn't it? That time when the food was so perfect and the moment was so perfect that you remember it still.
I bought the paperback, but I plan to give that away and buy the hard copy today.
It's that kind of book.
A book to have forever.
I've been taking it with me from room to room in case I get a spare second.
I really have.
Every morning with tea.
Cheating while we play Mad Libs.
(Cheating by reading my book while playing, not cheating at Mad Libs, silly goose.)
Instead of folding laundry.
(Course, I'd read an automobile manual to ward off laundry.)
(Such a chore, that teeth brushing.)
My favorite time.
Oh, just look at this from the chapter, How to Build a Ship, whereby she talks about food passages in books!! This one from The Wind in the Willows.
Oh, how I love to read about food in books!
One of my favorite food descriptions in books is simple peasant fare. Always eaten during a long journey, usually on horseback. Must consist of dried meat, hardened bread, some apples and wine. I have no idea why that appeals to me so, but it does, so much.
Or how about in the Harry Potter books?!! Oh my lord! Those feasts at Hogwart's are enough to make me swoon with hunger.
She talks about capers!
My god, who ever talks about capers anymore?
I love capers soooo much.
Capers in butter, no less.
She talks about anchovies packed in salt!
It's a treasure, I tell you.
Even if you have never read a cookbook in your life, you must.
It's not even a cookbook really, but, of course it is.
There's a wonderful interview with her HERE at Pantry Confidential.
What an adorable thing she is.
She makes me want to be smarter.
To cook more.
Often and always with love and care.
I know I am absolutely gushing, but I just can't help it.
I love it.
I love her.
I want to have her over and absorb her.
And now I am off to make a breakfast of Banana Cockaigne from The Joy of Cooking because I have been inspired.