Feb 23, 2010

Poaching eggs

Recently we've been making a lot of poached eggs. Well, Chris makes them. He simmers a few inches of vinegared water in our biggest cast-iron pan, then slips the eggs out of their shells and into the water using a small bowl to keep them from addling too badly. A few minutes later, we have soft custardy loaves of white and yolk -- surely the best expression of egg there is.

Yesterday, I left the office in the early evening to see Phillip Gourevitch interview Mary Karr at Joe's Pub. On a low stage, they talked about memory, memoir, writing, took questions about their books, riffed on teaching, poetry, prayer. Chris and I sat on a padded bench in the dark with emptying cocktail glasses in front of us and our backs torqued towards Mary and Phillip. And at some point, in the dopey calm of one watery drink on an empty stomach, I felt like I was slipping out of a cracked shell and into an environment that might help my addled, sloppy self coalese into something rich and good.

Dec 2, 2009

Consider 'Consider Bardwell'

The best part of my pre-work morning was learning,via Anne Saxelby's "Cutting the Curd" podcast that Consider Bardwell Farm (in West Pawlet, Vermont), was named for a man named Consider -- apparently one of several generations of Bardwell men of the same strange, beautiful first name. (He was born to a woman named Experience!) Just as I started thinking about how distant and archaic that name felt from today, the NYC Department of Health released a list of the city's most popular baby names for 2008: 26 baby boys named 'Sincere' this year (rank: 155).

Aug 3, 2009

Alice Doesn't Cook Here Anymore

Michael Pollan's article in the New York Times Magazine revisits a familiar paradox: consumption of food programming is on the rise, while actual home cooking continues to ebb. A colleague at work reminded me of an Op-Ed that ran late last year, where cookbook author Marcella Hazan argued that the glamorization of chefs comes at the expense of the home cook. Both pieces struck a chord with me, but I don’t agree that cooking shows or chef-worship are in any way the cause of disengagement from the kitchen.

While shows like “Top Chef” and a lot of the Food Network's programming aren’t likely to teach you much about how to cook, they do beget a measure of appreciation for the skill, verve, and creativity that can be a part of kitchen work. These shows make cooking look sexy, but they're primarily entertainment. The homespun practical cooking lessons a la French Chef that Pollan morns haven't disappeared -- they've just migrated.

To the internet.

At the time of the last official Internet Instructional Cooking Material survey, there were, I believe, a gajillion such sites, ranging from Mark Bittman's restrained/simple/delicious "Bitten" blog at the Times to the crazy cavalcade of recipe blogs that Saveur is trying to corral and showcase.

But I'm partly making this up. I don't have cable at home, and only watch cooking shows when I want to be entertained -- for recipes, I run internet searches or hit my very modest cookbook collection.

Where do you turn when you want to cook?