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New post at Eat Your Books on a prolific catch of seafood cookbooks. So far, most of the fish I’ve had this season has been freshwater–caught by our kids on fishing expeditions out back with our friend and neighbor, Uncle Bone. There’s nothing quite like fresh fish–but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t go for a fresh lobster roll, or a nice cool ceviche, or maybe even a clambake or two.
I have a review of At Elizabeth David’s Table in the Globe today. It’s not every food writer that can stand up to posthumous re-publication. But Elizabeth David’s prose, her character, and her recipes just slay me with their charm.
Uncharacteristically, I can’t seem to decide if I like this book or not–so much so that I wrote a long blog post about it at Eat Your Books. I am put in mind, ridiculously, of one of my daughter’s favorite books–The Good Little Bad Little Pig. It’s a great book–the one about the pig, I mean. As to the cookbook, I just can’t make up my mind.
This week, I moved my dad to an assisted living facility. He’d lived with us for 10 years, but his Alzheimer’s had gotten to the stage where he increasingly needed professional care. As anyone who has cared for an aging parent knows, the logistics of moving were the least of it.
In the daytime, I filled out forms, labeled clothes, and moved furniture. In the evening, I made cookies. If you wanted to argue this was in some way a return to the comforts of childhood, I wouldn’t contradict you.
I scooped out the dough with an ice cream scoop, a trick I’d never used before. The dough came out in perfect spheres, which I flattened into perfect circles, which baked into perfect round cookies. Then I ate them, in the dark, in the quiet, their sweetness and perfection a reminder of everything imperfect and passing.
Like many people, I’m always seized by a sort of romanticism about the land around this time of year. After the long New England winter, at last, we see the first fruits the warming earth will bear! In the market you can find the coiled fiddleheads, the slender ramps, extracted from the secret, wild caches of the foragers.
“The market,” for me, is Whole Foods. And every year my yearning for these scavenged treasures is shocked to stillness by their price. Every year I decline the ramps at $13.99. I walk by the fiddleheads, which start at $19.99, and wait till they bottom out in their abundance, at $9.99.
It’s not that I so hate to splurge. But it strikes me as faintly obscene that these foods, once richly gathered into the hands of the winter-starved and needy, should go to market–and at such a price!– for the pleasure of consumers who don’t need them. Then again, who knows? maybe no one depends on foraging in this era of cheap food. And lobsters, after all, were once the food of the poor; equally, you can spend $19 a plate for what was peasant food in the Old World in numberless upscale restaurants. Food cycles up and down all the time–except when it’s so scarce that the question isn’t what, but how to eat.
Does a food become less meaningful if you don’t really need it? I don’t know. But I know it always bugs me, just a bit, when what once was a necessity becomes, in the end, nothing more than a choice.
It arrived via USPS from a Big Six publisher–marked “Delivery Confirmation”–along with two other urgent envelopes containing more conventionally tangible volumes.
I am even now trying to figure out where I will get the invisible groceries to make these none-of-a-kind recipes. . . and how on earth I will get the kids to try even Just One Bite.
Some thoughts on “how books” at eatyourbooks.com: i.e., food books with the attention-getting “how” subtitle. Today’s “how” ‘s? “How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed our Most Alluring Fruit” and “How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on forty dollars a week)”. Read the post here.
They did it! The family made cranberry scones for Mother’s Day–the ones from Joanne Chang’s Flour cookbook. I came down to coffee, yogurt & jam, a scone with a little ramekin of butter, and two tulips freshly snipped from….somewhere or other. (I didn’t inquire too closely.)
Then I got to spend the rest of the day gardening, and–after clearing away the ground ivy and grass and old stalks–found about a dozen spears of asparagus smartly shouldering their way out of the ground.
Could any mom ask for more?