Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fictional cooking?

Eccentric writing is celebrated in many a genre. Still, in cooking discourse there aren't many offshoots into the fictitious. So, when Holly handed me "Country Cooking From Central France: Roast Boned Rolled Stuffed Shoulder of Lamb (Farce Double)" by Harry Mathews', I had no idea what was in store for me.

"...The risks were lessened by placing the diaphanous bags in woolen reticules. It is still incredible that no damage is ever done to them on the way to the stuffing tables. To avoid their cooling, they are carried at a run by teenage boys, for whom this is a signal honor: every Sunday throughout the following year, they will be allowed to wear their unmistakable lily-white smocks."

In this passage they're talking about fish-roll stuffed clay ball that, in a provincial French town would be grilled in the most unlikely way. This short story about food was so convincing! The way things are worded; I wanted to trust the narrator. But, when the Matthews wrote that his friends in Paris marinate the lamb roast in their bidet, I had to laugh.

The tone of this writing has a distinct nostalgic feeling. It is an anecdote, a history, and a commentary as much as a recipe. "Country Cooking" talks about far more than food. Ha, I love it!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The First Oyster

This is a passage from one of my favorite books about cooking, Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential.

“We’d already polished up the Brie and baguettes and downed the Evian, but I was still hungry, and characteristically said so.
Monsieur Saint-Jour, on hearing this- as if challenging his American passengers- inquired in his thick Girondias accent if any of us would care to try an oyster.
My parents hesitated. I doubt that they’d realized they might actually have to eat one of the raw, slimy things we were currently floating over. My little brother recoiled in horror.
But I, in the proudest moment of my young life, stood up smartly, grinning with defiance, and volunteered to be the first.
And in that unforgettably sweet moment in my personal history, that one moment still more alive for me than so many other ‘firsts’ that followed- first pussy, first joint, first day in high school, first published book or any other thing- I attained glory. Monsieur Saint-Jour beckoned me over to the gunwale, where he leaned over, reached down until his head nearly disappeared underwater and emerged holding a single silt-encrusted oyster, huge and irregularly shaped, in his rough claw like fist. With a snubby, rust-covered oyster knife, he popped the thing open an handed it to me, everyone watching now, my little brother shrinking away from this glistening, vaguely sexual-looking object, still dripping and nearly alive.
I took it in my hand, tilted the shell back into my mouth as instructed by the now beaming Monsieur Saint-Jour and with one bite and a slurp, wolfed it down. It tasted of seawater…of brine and flesh…and somehow…of the future.
Everything was different now. Everything.
I’d not only survived- I’d enjoyed."

Monday, September 8, 2008

Tasty Test

Home made "Pain aux Chocolate" the cheater way:

  • Toast good bread, Butter it
  • Top with chocolate sprinkles
  • Enjoy your desert