Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

As I stare into the fridge

I have two extremes when faced with the prospect of cooking for myself (and only myself): I either get excited and creative, concocting something new that will last me a few days, or I get pouty, waiting until my stomach begins to hurt before I start banging cabinets and opening and closing the fridge door.  Granted this can happen when my husband is at home as well but the experience of cooking for one and eating alone is something all its own.  

This seems to be a subject of some curiosity to many, as shown by the books “Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for one and Dining Alone” edited by Jenni Ferrari-Adler and “What we Eat When we Eat Alone: stories and 100 Recipes” by Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin.  Both books are collections of stories about the experience of cooking for one from the cabinet bangers and the excited folks that look forward to making exactly what they want they way they want it.  They explore the pleasures of being able to cater to our every gastronomical whim and also the concoctions we will eat alone that we would never eat in front of anyone else (or even tell them about). 

The majority of my experience cooking for one was in college where a meal of ramen (the 25 cent packages!) was acceptable and often showed up more than once a week.  That being the case, I have found myself ill equipped for the many nights I have found myself cooking for one, thanks to my husbands new job.  I am more than a little ashamed to admit that I did try the ramen  again (the price has gone up), and although I had the sense to add a few things to it, something I never thought of in college, it is really not a suitable meal for someone who claims to be passionate about food.  So I am learning.

Because my current situation has me eating alone for a few days in a row, I have learned to set myself up ahead of time.  Roasting a chicken for my husband and I the night before sets me up for chicken and rice or soup that will last me a few days.  In her book “The Gastronomy of Marriage: a Memoir of Food and Love” Michelle Maisto talks about how she misses the food that she ate alone and how now some of her favorites are her husbands least.  She finds herself looking forward to cooking her meals for one, and in suite I have started to think of the foods that I like that I cook less (or not at all) when it is the two of us.  

I love soup, all kinds all seasons, it makes me happy.  My husband less so.  It’s not that he doesn’t like soup, he like’s it fine with a meal.  To him a bowl of soup with a side of crusty bread is not a whole meal and to me it is The meal.  So, on my days alone soup has played a starring role.  I have also found that soup is the kind of dish that I look forward to making, thinking about it throughout the day, mentally adding and taking away different ingredients.  Now that we are in California we have such an incredible amount of fresh local produce just begging me to be made into Minestrone, Gazpacho, Potato Leek…..  I could go on and on. 

I will admit that I now have days that I am thrilled to eat alone, so that I can eat exactly what I want, when I want and while doing whatever else I might want at the same time!  On the other hand, I will probably always have my days where I have no interest in dealing with food and since there is only myself to answer to I just don't bother.  I'm OK with that.
So, what kind of food do you cook when you are alone?  Are you a pouty cabinet banger or an excited planner?   

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

And so I begin

In May, 2010 my husband and I moved from upstate New York to Sacramento, California.  We moved here on blind faith; neither of us had a job, we didn't have an apartment and we didn't know a soul.  Like the many that have come before us, all we had (or needed) was the naive assumption that it would all work out.  Slowly and surely things are starting to work out, but, they are definitely taking the slow road.  Once we found an apartment my husband quickly found work, leaving me jobless and bored, with way too much (alone) time on my hands. 

A few weeks in and starting to feel lost and unsure of the decisions I had made, I wanted to re-read, “Comfort me with Apples”  Ruth Reichl’s second memoir about her time living in California and getting into the food scene.  I was hoping that reading this would boost my spirits and inspire me to start my new Californian life. Not only was this one of the first food related memoirs I have ever read, getting me entirely hooked on the genre, it has also continued to be my favorite.  Because my copy was packed away in a box in New York, I decided to walk across the street to the Goodwill with the sole purpose of finding this book.  If you are a used book shopper you know, as well as I do, that you cannot go into a setting like this assuming that you will find exactly what you are looking for.  If you do this you will constantly be disappointed.  With that said, I not only found, “Comfort me with Apples” but also a stack of other foodie memoirs!  It was at this moment that I knew that even if I had no job and no friends I had made the right choice by moving here. 

The fact that finding a certain book in the Goodwill had the power to squash most of my fears and insecurities about my move should give you a good indication of the type of person I am.  I can and will talk about books and food constantly, often wondering if my listener is just being polite or if they are actually as interested in these things as I am.  Thus, I start a blog.  I assume that if you continue reading, you are interested, and if you are only semi interested you will jump around only reading parts.    

My goals for this blog, (because as with any project I feel I must start with some) are to be able to not only share my love of food literature, but also to make the process of being a food lit lover easier.  I have spent an incredible amount of time tracking down titles, and though this is a process that I happen to love, I have always felt that there needs to be a place to find a comprehensive list.  My list will never be complete but I am going to do my best.  I will share my thoughts on what I am reading, and also my attempts at following the recipes that are scattered throughout the stories.  Occasionally there will be random thoughts on my food life in Sacramento, as well as books that may have nothing to do with food that I just happen to really like. 

Whether you are a little interested or a lot I hope you enjoy my musings and gain a few things from my plethora of food lit information.  If you have questions or need recommendations please feel free to ask!