I’ve been thinking a lot about eating and loving, and loving eating and loving cooking since I started this blog: not surprisingly because my writing seems to be centered around that: my love for cooking for people I love: my life measured out in meals with family, and friends and erstwhile husbands and always, sons , and lately(and hopefully for a very long time) a lover…
Even though in an earlier post I wrote about the Meal That Started It All, notably then to me that exquisitely exotic combination of a rare steak and fresh oysters, I have to admit that maybe my love of cooking really is about the satisfaction I derive from presenting people I care for with a lovely meal… not necessarily something exotic or out of the ordinary or wildly innovative: I could never be a recipe writer, or a cook in a restaurant for strangers: friends have suggested in the past that I should open a restaurant after another enjoyable meal eaten at my usually rather humble table: no over the top place settings, nor the best crystal and crockery, but always always white linen or cotton napkins, and always white candles in an assortment of candlesticks..
But when I think about cooking, like I am doing now, it is always with a specific person or group of people in mind, and what goes through my head is: what can I cook that they would absolutely love… rather than experimenting with new and rare ingredients and creating a picture perfect plate of food. Having said that, of course I love to cook new dishes and discover exotic ingredients like sumac, and know cheffy secrets like adding a soffrito of celery, onion and carrot to a Bolognese, how to make chermoula, or to add orange peel to gremolata, and I love to have in my larder things like orange blossom water and truffle oil, and to have a rather vast array of utensils including that nifty apparatus with which to strip off long curly lengths of lemon and orange peel: a zester I think?
And certainly I have an embarrassment of riches in the array of food ingredients now available… most of which never crossed the threshold of the very middle class home I grew up in. One of the more exotic dishes in the seventies which my aunt loved making was a salad: with bananas and mayonnaise(not the homemade variety which I love making from scratch: another foody thing!!), and peanuts!
But regardless of the ingredients, the recipe, the almost ritualistic quality of cooking, it always ends up for me being about feeding people, myself included: nourishing…. providing pleasure: it’s about love I guess….and maybe it always has been, for my mother and her mother and her mother’s mother….