Thursday, March 13, 2008

washing lettuce and a fifty-degree afternoon

I find such profound satisfaction in preparing dinner some nights. Tonight, for instance, I stood at the sink washing lettuce, the frigid water numbing my knuckles, and reveled in the delight of it. I had chicken sizzling in a skillet, souped up with garlic and oregano, and I had red and yellow peppers and a purple onion to chop. Setting the table, filling our glasses, grabbing a trivet, I felt competent. I felt like I was taking care of things, feeding myself and my love something genuinely good.

This connects, I think, not only to the fresh hint-of-spring day we had, but also to my recent reading of The Little House Cookbook, a childhood favorite. This paperback borrows Garth Williams's delightful illustrations from Laura Ingalls Wilder's books and provides recipes for the myriad foods mentioned (and lushly described) in the books.

I think the deep satisfaction in providing food for people I care about is also rooted in a history of family women who cook. My great-grandma always fed us when we visited. She had one of those old-fashioned cookie jars that was never empty. Does anyone even keep a cookie jar anymore? My grandma, too, has always been one to feed: she kept this extensive vegetable garden when I was young, and an herb garden (I remember the sharp tang of dill), and a flower garden. She also kept a freezer stocked with fudgesicles and cabinets full of trail mix and yogurt-covered raisins. My mom and my aunts, too, are masters in the kitchen. They turn out mythically wonderful meals for holidays and visits and, dare I say, normal life. They grow things, chop and simmer and bake, offer second helpings, and know how to enjoy the fruits of their labor. I am so blessed by their example.


  1. With no success I have tried to determine the definition of la fleur epuisee. The closest I can come is that it refers to one of my favorite Stone's songs Dead Flowers.

    Well I will let you epuisee if you let me flaner.

    And if during your Oral Examination you are asked how the term flaneur is significant within the corpus of 20th century American Literature?

    The only correct answer is -

    Tommy was a friend of mind
    Pynchon could flaner anytime

    As an exercise in existential juxtapositional I will let you finish the refrain in your own fashion.

    Hope you don't consider the above rude. I found your blog charming and just wanted to play.

    Snapping out,


  2. Ah! A comment to which I have not replied! Apologies!

    I'll remember that for my orals. :o)

    La fleur epuisee was a skittish undergrad attempt at poetic French -- the out-of-print flower -- but it really just contextually probably translates as the wilted flower, which is much more realistic but not nearly as pretty, eh?