Saturday, January 15, 2011

Spring in January

The weather was positively spring-like in the Bay Area today.  (Apologies to those of you enjoying frostier days.)  And while I know that today was probably just a brief respite from our soggy winter, everyone I talked to seemed to be spouting some version of  "This is why we live in California."  (Of course, it's usually followed up with  "And this is why we pay obscene amounts of money to live here", but I digress...)

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"!


  1. You're right. I am always thankful for living in this glorious place and sometimes feel like pinching myself realizing this is "home".
    By the way, your artichoke is charming and, quite frankly, yummy looking.

  2. Well, I didn't think a print of your artichoke drawing would end up in my dining room. But it did and I love it. Thank you for your generosity and your talent. Thank goodness we were friends before I discovered your art. Otherwise, you'd wonder if I cozy up only to have the opportunity to say "my artist friend".

  3. I am exploring your blog today I came across this drawing... hello, I am an artichoke as well! :) (Artisjokken= artichoke's )
    But, ...I like your botanical drawings... really I enjoy it.