Friday, June 26, 2020

How and why to cook

'Now, just one more question, Mrs. Appleyard,' the Editor said, hoping she would break another cookie. 'I've heard it said that a well-known painter when asked what he mixed his paints with, said "With brains." Now do you feel that--to sum up what you've told me--people should cook with brains? May I quote you?'

Mrs. Appleyard put another batch of cookies into the oven.

'Brains are not enough,' she said. 'You have to like things: the dishes you cook with, the people you buy the butter from, the field where the crows fly over the corn and the wind that blows through their wings. You have to like the table you put the food on, and the people who sit around it. Yes, even when they tip back in your Hitchcock chairs, you have to like them. You don't just like how the food tastes--you like how it looks and smells and how the egg beater sounds. You like the rhythm of chopping and the throb of the teakettle lid. You like to test the frying pan with water and see it run around like quicksilver. You like the shadow in pewter and the soft gleam of silver and the sharp flash of glass. You like the feel of damask napkins and the shadows of flowers on a white cloth. You like people eating in their best clothes in candlelight, and in their dungarees on a beach in the broiling sun, or under a pine tree in the rain.

'You like the last moment before a meal is served when the hollandaise thickens, the steak comes sputtering out of the broiler, the cream is cooked into the potatoes and the last drop of water is cooked out of the peas.' Here she was silent long enough to take the correctly lacy and golden cookies off the pan. 'Not with brains,' she repeated, putting down the spatula. 'With love.'
Louise Andrews Kent, Mrs. Appleyard's Cookbook

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