Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What's for dinner?

A Sunday dinner that began here and ended with Pavlova—pistachio and lavender meringue topped with lavender-infused whipped cream, berries, and peaches.

Yesterday, in Secret Ingredients, I read a delicious essay by Jane Kramer. In "The Reporter's Kitchen," she explores the link between cooking and writing. Comfort food—she describes running to her stove when she is trying to untangle a troublesome sentence, the meals she makes when she's trying to find the right ending.

I was completely and doubly inspired, both in writing and in cooking—and maybe because she showed me the way that cooking can feed my writing.

I've noticed that I approach food preparation in two ways: the expansive, excited, take-on-anything delight in cooking for people I love (and getting to make anything I want) and the nightly requirement of fixing dinner for people I love. I refer to the latter as slinging hash. The first is a pleasure, and it feels creative. The second is a must, a should, an obligation—and I'm kicking against that, not the cooking.

I'm also kicking against the shopping and the cleaning. I have tried to tell myself that the cleaning can be a fabulous Zen occupation, or at least it can be after-dinner exercise. And I harbor a fantasy that I would not loathe shopping if I lived in Paris and could stop at two or three little shops (the Boulangerie, the Charcouterie, and some little spot for vegetables) on my way home from the Metro. Somehow, stopping at the neighborhood QFC doesn't have quite the same cache.

But I retain hope. If I can take Ms. Kramer's experiences to heart, perhaps I can look at each onion chop and garlic smash as an opportunity, and maybe I can make each meal, even Thursday's, an opportunity to enjoy.

I'll let you know how it goes, but what about you? Any household routines or requirements that actually get you into the zone? (I've heard other people mention ironing, and that is definitely not me.) Any way to make the routines feel less routine?


Dawn said...

I always think of the Italian shops. How romantic to walk home with a basket of fresh bread. Ok, maybe a little to Tuscan Sun, but it sounds much better than rushing through isle after isle of our local grocery store.

And the only thing that gets me through ironing is the thought of how handsome my husband is in freshly pressed shirts.

Joannie said...

And in Italy, there are the fresh pasta shops. That's my fantasy, stopping off to pick up ravioli.

My husband would love to hear about your ironing strategy. He presses his own shirts.