Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Yesterday Maureen left a comment in which she asked if I'd ever thought of writing a combined food-and-poetry book. The answer is "not exactly but sort of."

The food writing I do on this blog is really the only food writing I have ever done. For some unexamined reason, I do not incorporate much about food into my poetry, and to this point my prose has referred to it only in passing. On the other hand, food is a major part of my life. Almost every day I cook a well-planned meal. I grow as much food as I can (which by no means implies self-sufficiency) and use as many local sources as possible. I've gone through periods of being interested in food writers--of the M. F. K. Fisher, Alice B. Toklas, Richard Olney ilk. I am not a collector of cookbooks and at this point do not depend on them; but as source material I still rely on the standbys of Marcella Hazan, Richard Olney, Julia Child, and Irma Rombauer. I like non-European food but am not schooled in producing it myself.

My favorite way to cook is to wander out into my garden at 3 p.m. and see what I can find. Then I combine those pickings with whatever else I have. At this time of year that includes new-laid eggs and the less flashy cuts of meat still left in the freezer. Winter cooking is far more store- and canning-shelf dependent, but the meat options tend to be broader.

None of this information is likely to be new to any of you readers who cook or garden, which is perhaps why I have not found myself writing too much about it. I suppose, in a way, my thoughts about cooking feel both obvious and improvisational. My approach to cooking is also highly social, as writing is not. Meals are a centerpiece of our family life . . . whether family means just the two of us at home, or all four of us, or a holiday party. I arrange the food on our plates. I light candles or pick flowers. Every dinner has its little ceremonies: even emergency grilled-cheese-sandwich night requires tidy cloth napkins. All of this sounds, on the page, like fussiness; but in practice dinner just happens to matter in our lives. And I am fortunate in the fact that I cook for people, both husband and children, who pay attention to what they eat and are interested in flavors, colors, and textures.

P.S. Tomorrow, very, very early, Tom and I will leave home to catch the ferry to North Haven. We'll be there for a couple of days before we fetch Film School Boy and bring him home. So you won't hear from me in the morning; maybe I'll snatch a moment to write later in the day. In the meantime, imagine buffleheads floating on the waves and oysters floating on my plate.


Maureen said...

Enjoyed this post. Your approach to food, those little things like flowers and candles, are what makes eating such a pleasure.

I also have an Hazan cookbook, though I tend to pull it out only cooking for company.

Ruth said...

Your prose writing is ever so poetic and combining the two would be a treat to the ear, the eye and the stomach!! I just check out of the library a book called EDIBLE STORIES by Mark Kurlansky. The blurb tlaks about the bond of food on people that holds, releases or "makes them become vegan"

Ruth said...

Talks!!!!!! where is spell check when you need it????? Tsk to me!