Cookbooks. As important a consideration as the bathtub when I move.
I love this small corner in my space. Click here for another view of my kitchen. I hate doing dishes.
I don't have much. And in all the right ways, I have plenty.
Looking at your cookbook shelves is something I like to do. There's a lot to be gleaned — what's worn from use, what's at eye level, how they're arranged. A collection is an intimate expression of a person.
This is more gratitude in the run-up to sixty.
My dad was a classic 70s guy. Chuck had a solid-gold cookbook collection. The Foods of the World regularly came in the mail from Time-Life. He had them all and cooked from them. Making the connection between recipes and eating extraordinary things was a seed planted in me early.
One of the last times I was alone with my dad was in his root cellar, we were admiring the season in jars and his cookbooks. He gave me his first edition of The Classic Italian Cookbook. Both of us wild for Marcella.
(A couple of months after he died, I was cleaning stuff up on a Google site and discovered he'd tried to make contact with me through another account he'd set up. His avatar photo broke my heart. It felt like he was reaching out. It was surreal. I cried. Grief is strange.)
I was fourteen when I got my first cookbook as a Christmas gift. The two-volume set "the vegetarian epicure" by anna thomas (all lowercase, like on the book cover). I got a real wok that year too.
My parents encouraged me to listen to my heart. It's why I chased cooking and writing. Good and bad, those were my decisions.
This pile says a lot about me. On the left are books that guided my professional life, and on the right are books that influenced my writing. The one on top straddles both.
The headnotes in Chez Panisse Cooking are stunning. I talked to Paul Bertolli about this, and he paid respect to Elizabeth David. My heart lit up.
I’ve written about a few books. Generally, I read them a few times cover-to-cover and then ground myself in the writer/cook’s work. Out of respect. For my craft and theirs.
I have a pretty piece coming out soon on a book. The story was a joy to land and write. I felt lucky, and soon you’ll know why.
If I hate a cookbook, I can usually tell you why in one sentence. Like, it doesn’t have an index.
Hearing a woman sing this song is sexy. I like Springsteen only a little. I’ve always respected how he shows up for unions and labour, like a genuine human.
From 17 to 23, I travelled around Canada — for work and study. The soundtrack of my life then included Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Hearing a song from Déjà Vu reminds me of night fires on Lake Cowichan, morning frost in August in Temagami, and sitting on the banks of the Otonabee River at Trent University. You can see and hear how good they were together. How fortunate we are that David Crosby was among us.
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