The first French book I bought for myself as an apprentice. On Valentine's Day. Made by Gault-Millau with an introduction by Pierre Salinger — an American journalist and politico who looks like Paul Bocuse's long-lost brother. (You need to look — classic 70s guy.) Here's an episode on Burgundy of the PBS show. At the time I was working in the kitchen with André Donnet in Hamilton at L'Escargot. A terrific cook and a good guy. My golden start.
In the early days of yearning. I flipped out for French food — strutted right off the end of the high diving board at the local quarry. In almost 35 years, it has taken me to interesting places. I mean that wholistically — from extraordinary to terrible. Hard work made me fortunate. I paid my dues. I spent too much time with French men. I'd like to write some of those stories.
My adorable book inscription is below. Like a schoolgirl, the pen drawing of the heart is a pre-emoji emoji. Beside it is a photo of the chef I worked for in France five years later. My fate was sealed at the Table of Contents. On February 14, 1988. How completely happenstance. Life's poetry.
It took five years to turn that dream into reality. I had enough confidence in André to tell him early. He never led me to believe it was impossible. That's one reason why it happened.
I hope you all know the pleasure of realizing a long-term goal. I remember the people who got me there and those who were barriers. Because that's life.
I bought the book at Edwards. Remember that Queen Street West? Those were the days. I am old. Now it's like the Mall of America (with a few exceptions).
If you feel up to it, show me the first cookbook that meant something to you as a young cook. Send a photo or link to me on social media.
I lost a friend two weeks ago. A woman who was there for me in my early recovery. We were close for almost 20 years, and then we drifted apart. What a cook — I would sprint to her dinner table. A blue-ribbon amateur. We spent lots of time in the kitchen together. I can hear her belly laugh sitting here writing this. She had the joy of living in the human sense.
She was a long-time meditator. We would sit in morning meditation up at her cottage — in chairs facing one another. The gentle lap of water on the lakeshore, the busy morning trill of birds making the day's plans, maybe the lone wail of a loon if it was overcast. There's nothing like a friend you can be quiet with. Also, friends, you can read around. And older friends.
I talked to her husband of 59 years this past week. It was a nice conversation. We laughed, and it was solemn.
I remember her in many ways — smiling in the sauna and jumping in an icy lake, both of us on the VIP tour of Graceland. Times you never want to end. Completely grateful.
I picked the songs for my heart.
Elton John and Bernie Taupin were extraordinary storytellers. They could write for his uniquely baritone voice and the piano. Top of the Pops was a big deal. Both performances about a year apart when things were taking off for him in Britain. They are subdued, but his brilliance as a showman in the jackets and the lighting in the second video is clear. A man behind a piano. A legendary performer. Close your eyes and imagine being in Royal Festival Hall in 1972.
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