Archive for November 2010

occasion

November 25, 2010

In my summer kitchen, austerity and hedonism are the same thing. At the height of the season, when I’m hauling in buckets of beans and squash every morning, I sometimes find it difficult to get excited about the idea of eating them. But then later, when they’re on the plate, I am always amazed at my good fortune.

 There was a time I reveled in complex recipes and exotic ingredients, but my summers of rigorous seasonality and simplicity have definitely influenced my city kitchen. Part of it is a growing disgust with our industrial food system (though I don’t think I’ll ever give up avocados). It’s also a little bit habit, a little bit laziness, a little bit thrift. And, what can I say, I like to eat things that taste of themselves.

It was only as I prepared my contributions to today’s feast that I realized the extent to which big, complicated preparations have fallen out of my active repertory. And while there are plenty of reasons to make a habit of eating simply, there is something to be said for making an effort to mark an occasion. For baking the cornbread—from scratch—a day ahead so it has time to get stale. For starting a recipe with two sticks of butter. For supplementing the onions, herbs and carrots from the farmstand with chestnuts from France and figs from Greece. In the summer, I have the luxury of living off of vegetables I knew from the time they were seedlings. In the city, I have… well, everything else. So why not celebrate that?

Among my other contributions will be a heap of roasted vegetables from the farmer’s market. It is impossible to say whether I prefer this dish—one more typical of how I eat regularly—to the rich stuffing. It’s also irrelevant. Sometimes nourishment comes as much from the preparation as the consumption. How glad I am to be able to mark this day in this way—by making an effort, by serving up my love for my friends in edible form.