Sunday, December 10, 2006

Fun with Food

For a while now I've been occupied with getting rid of stuff around the house that takes up space without giving something in return. The pleasure of ownership is lost on me. I expect my "stuff" to have practical or asethetic value, or at least provide a decent orgasm. Currently I'm eying the cookbook shelves.

There are a handful of cookbooks I wouldn't part with for the world--anything by Deborah Madison or Julia Child, M.F.K. Fisher's The Cooking of Provincial France, (part of the Time Life Foods of the World series, from which I learned how to cook when I was in my 20's), Mrs. Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook. These books form the basis for my reputation as a decent cook. There are more that I could get rid of if I just copied the two or three recipes that I use into my personal recipe notebook. There are still more that I browse from time to time, either for a visual feast or as a form of armchair traveling, or to prepare for an actual journey by learning about regional specialties.

And then there are the other hundred or more that have ended up in my posession (I didn't buy them!) that I will never use--glossy works designed to promote use of certain products (The Spam Cookbook, The Tang Cookbook, The Spry Cookbook, The Joys of Jello) and cookbooks published by the Junior League, the Young Republicans, the DAR, the Bird Island St. Mary's Catholic Church Missionary Society. Cousin Judy's Better than Sex cake, Mrs. Murchistan's Easy Holiday Salad, and Duck a l'orange made with powered Tang are good for laughs. Once.

So this weekend I've been culling the shelves, paging through each one to make sure I'm not throwing out pure gold, or missing a good laugh. This morning's stack included The Popular Potato, which contained not a single decent recipe but did provide some amusement in the chapter devoted to Childrens' Special Spuds.

This dish might be good for encouraging abstract thinking. In case you couldn't tell, it's a person driving a car down a road. An egg person with shredded carrot hair and raisin eyes driving a potato car with cherry tomato tires and a cucumber hood ornament? steering wheel? down a road paved with cheese and striped with peas. Yum.

I'm thinking a lifetime of therapy awaits the child who confronts this dish at dinnertime.


Anonymous Allotment lady said...

They are so funny. I too have had a clear out of cookery books - my shelf just could not take one single extra book!

I still need to get rid of some of them though - but I have to admit that I do not actually do many recipes from them!

14 December, 2006 08:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been known to shelve certain cookbooks under fiction instead of cooking...

Speaking of Szechuan cooking, have you seen Fuchsia Dunlop's tome? The recipes are good, and it's full of fascinating details about Chinese gastronomy.

I'm reading The Zuni Cafe Cookbook as a bedtime book now. It's like what Elizabeth David's recipes, only with actual details, like measurements and temperatures.

18 December, 2006 21:21  

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