“Sometimes I wonder if man was really meant to discover magic,” Fogg said expansively. “It doesn’t really make sense. It’s a little too perfect, don’t you think? If there’s a single lesson that life teaches us, it’s that wishing doesn’t make it so. Words and thoughts don’t change anything. Language and reality are kept strictly apart–reality is tough, unyielding stuff, and it doesn’t care what you think or feel or say about it. Or it shouldn’t. You deal with it, and you get on with your life.” -Lev Grossman (The Magicians)
From trains that seemed to be waiting for me to hop on them before closing their doors to an abundance of morning sunshine, today was a day full of little fortuitous moments. This moment in front of the computer may also represent yet another happy coincidence, though I suspect it’s really just the product of my having “paid it forward” this past weekend by cooking so extensively that I ensured a steady supply of leftovers for the week. Regardless of what it is, I am not going to question my good fortune, particularly as I’ve been wanting to write more. In these days of the legal life, one that has made me feel more and more like an extension of my desk chair/advanced reading machine (more on this soon), this just isn’t as possible as it ought to be. That said, there are often evenings like tonight (dusky amethyst sky and cool breeze not necessarily included) that simply beg to be seized; I just have to remember that, when they present themselves, I have to summon the energy to latch onto them.
On that happy note, I offer June’s food for thought, a prelude to what I hope will be a month full of a mixture of chocolate- and hearty vegetarian-fare-fueled posts:
Currently Reading: Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, which feeds my fantasy addiction. Up next: All the Light We Cannot See, and then Faithful Place because summer is the season when Tana French really shines.
Currently Watching: Although I generally dislike the amount of gore, nudity and unnecessary violence the creators of Game of Thrones squeeze into given season of the show (Ramsay Snow needs to go–consider this my personal chant for the past two seasons), I’m rather addicted to what has become the Greek’s and my Sunday night pleasure now that we have finally caught up.
Most exciting food discoveries of the past month: Rhubarb Yogurt Cake, which I made this weekend and loved for its custardy texture and tart little pockets of rhubarb; Joe Yonan’s “weeknight vegetarian” column in the Washington Post, which I like so much (black pepper tofu and the secret to perfect brown rice! All about lentils, too! The column is both varied and smart) that I might just become a subscriber once living in Delaware; a Roman breakfast tradition that I could get behind.
Best kitchen tips from the past month: Nancy Harmon Jenkins says to go rogue, embrace the Mediterranean method and not to blanch and peel fava beans; we tried it (the recipe for fava and prosciutto), it worked and we may never peel our fava beans again; courtesy of the Washington Post, how to store bananas, garlic, potatoes and celery to maximize their freshness.
Articles worth reading: a sad account of the academic world and its reliance on (and abuse of) adjunct professors; a crude but hilarious take on one modern woman’s transportation woes and the world’s need for mutual respect; a portrait of Deborah Madison, the Queen of Greens, with recipes; thank you, Mark Bittman: time to stop fearing almonds and to embrace America’s need for a true system of regional/seasonal agriculture.
Thoughts on Current Food Culture: I’ve long had the creeping sensation that there are too many cookbooks out there these days and that food has become one of the dominant topics of conversation (and, by default, money makers) in this country and perhaps the world. For the most part, as a person who loves cookbooks, I am okay with this, but the mania has really started to reach a new and disturbing level. This realization was driven home recently when I was taking a recent PG&E survey and they asked me if I would want to receive recipes in my monthly PG&E newsletter. My answer was a very clear no; there has to be a line drawn in the sand somewhere and I think rejecting a gas company’s attempt to become a monthly food magazine is a fine place to start. Then, yesterday I saw news of the partnership between Williams-Sonoma and Mattel, which will soon be offering a series of cooking classes, baking sets and a cookbook based on the American Girl collection and realized that no market (or child) was safe from the steady advance of Food. While I’m all for teaching children to cook and about the pleasure of food, when does enough become enough and why do all major companies have to have a slice of the pie?
Then again, given America’s capitalist leanings, this is perhaps a silly and naive question. I just wonder when food will stop having a moment or if this is, for better or for worse, the new normal. Thoughts?
Photo: From Sunday’s paella feast at home, courtesy of Claudia Roden–the octopi that didn’t fit in the paella pan got the Greek treatment, with a glass of ouzo on the side.