Saturday, January 15, 2011
Spring in January
I was looking for a drawing that might illustrate the joy of living in California, when I ran across this artichoke sketch that I did one day last summer. As my thoughts turned to food, I was reminded of the cookbook that my sister recently gave me, Heart of the Artichoke, and Other Kitchen Journeys by David Tanis, the chef at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, a restaurant that's about as quintessentially Californian as it gets. (Actually, he's the chef at Chez Panisse for six months of the year, and lives in Paris the other half of the year....quel dommage.) I love the cover photograph; it illustrates the elegance of art forms found in nature, which is one of my obsessions lately. (Check out photographer Maren Caruso's website here - it's incredible.)
Heart of the Artichoke is a fabulous cookbook, but David Tanis' writing makes it much more: "Mesmerized by television shows hyping the thirty-minute meal and the blood sport of competitive cooking, we have somehow forgotten the pleasure of giving ourselves over to the true kitchen experience. This doesn’t mean spending hours and hours in the kitchen. It’s not more difficult cooking, but a different way of engaging with food. What matters is the joy..."
The first 35 pages or so are devoted to fourteen of his kitchen rituals, and I'd recommend the book for that section alone. Who among us doesn't have some food ritual akin to Tanis' particular way of making and eating oatmeal? And I'm always a sucker for a cookbook organized by seasons. So, in honor of today's weather, I'm boldly ignoring (for now) the "Dead-of-Winter Dinner from the Supermarket" and heading right for "Spices for a Summer Night"!