Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Most Beautiful Thing

I stumbled upon the most beautiful thing.

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.

A classic.  

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."

Or this:

"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.)

Brushing teeth.
(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!

Don't you?

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.

I digress.

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.


  1. I am mad for food too, and books about food. This one sound fab u lus. Did you ever read M.F.K. Fisher's books? She sends me into Wonderland.
    ms mdd

    1. Oh, you know, she talks about MFK in this book quite a bit. Going to the library site now to see if they have any!!

  2. I love Alice Waters! I even got to eat in her restaurant on my honeymoon. xoxo

  3. Anything with Alice Waters name involved has to be good, right? Have you read the book about the history of her restaurant? I am forgetting the name, but it's a wonderful, fun read. I think you would like it.
    As for the book you are raving about, I'm going to GET IT!

    1. No, but I do want to read it.

      Alice, oh, Alice. LOVE the name Alice by the way.

      Git it. You will love!

  4. Okay, I know this post is about food, but I'm going to address your laundry comment because, for me, that's the one that resonates. I HATE doing laundry! Why is that? I should be grateful to do laundry. I have a washer and a dryer in a laundry room. It is air conditioned and has a ceiling fan. There are two large windows facing the creek meadow where I can watch the deer and a hawk that hangs out down there. So why do I put it off until the next step is to wear a sheet and claim I'm on my way to a toga party? I've ordered a heavy duty hanging rack with shelves that's coming today, hoping to change my evil ways ...

    1. I'm so very jealous of your laundry room! Mine is in a dark, creepy, moist basement with spiderwebs above my head and house centipedes crawling on the walls. My laundry excursions are literally just running down there and moving stacks of clothes through the machines as quickly as possible then running away screaming. It might help you if there's something else going on than the monotony of folding laundry... like putting a stereo in so you can listen to music, or watching some netflix shows on your laptop. Watching Arrested Development while folding is the only thing that gets me through it!

    2. Can we just TALK about the damn laundry?


      The only thing that makes it bearable is what Meredith said ... watching a movie whilst folding.

      I don't know why I dislike it so. The only thing worse is bringing clothes in off the line. I LOVE hanging them, hate unhanging them. SO much.

      whine whine. Our first world problems are soooo awful.

  5. I so want to love food and cooking. I want it to feel like a natural part of my life. I want it to feel like the privilege it is (that I have food, that I have the means to prepare it well), instead of like the onerous chore it seems to be. Will this book help me get there?

    1. Seriously, it DOES seem like an onerous chore, doesn't it? Cooking for kids/picky eaters just kills it. I did feel very renewed after reading this. Promise! Her writing is sublime, I think you'll love it. oxox

  6. if you want to give away the paperback and haven't yet you could give it to me! sounds wonderful! sounds like just what i need. inspiration. i'm getting there, on good days. sometimes.

    i love reading about food in books, too! and i love it in movies, too, of course. love all the harry potter food. have you ever read 'like water for chocolate'? it's a beautiful film, too. lots of wonderful food.

    1. omg like water for chocolate!!! oh yes! remind me to tell you about my wedding night and LWFC!!!

      Ooops, I promised it to Linsey, but you can borrow my hard copy when I get it.


  7. What a wonderful review! I can't wait to get my hands on it! I'm no great cook, but not many things make me happier. Oops. Eating does!! But they tend to go nicely together. Thanks!!

    1. Right!! See I LOVE to eat and I get so bogged down now that I cook cook cook for everyone all the time. I wanna love to cook and eat again!!!

      What is that adorable logo there by your name? J9 Ink or something? (old lady vision)

  8. I just bought in on Kindle. I would love the paper edition, but I have a kindle for ipad so I must USE IT!

    Thank you for new reading fodder. ALWAYS appreciated!

    1. I'm mailing you the paperback.

      Send me a worm in trade.


  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. I can tell I am so in the minority here. I have never liked to cook and admire those who do. The ladies in my card group all are good cooks and seem to enjoy it even after 60+ years in the kitchen.
    So it goes.

    1. You make a delicious pot roast! And your Slumgullion is to die for!!! Is that how you spell it? What IS that, do you remember? Oh! and tomato pie!!!

      See there!

  11. That book looks amazing!! Can you add it to your amazon library so you can get your six cents when I order it? Hahah. Also- have you read Stalking the Wild Asparagus? It's AMAZING and I think you would love it!

    1. OK, dammit, I spent some time this morning redoing that whole amazon thing and I WILL add it soon. I am just SO computer dumbass. I need to hire someone. I really should. sigh. NO!, but looking for it now!

    2. Hahaha, I understand, that took me forever to figure out. If you open up the current widget that you saved, there's an edit button where you can add and delete books!

  12. Oh thank you so much for sharing this amazing book. After reading here I went to the reserve system for my library and immediately asked for a copy. Yay! And again, Thanks!

    1. You are sooo welcome. You're gonna LOVE it.


All the action is here in the comments. You want some action, don't you?