Thursday, November 29, 2007

All New All Purpose

I read cookbooks while I eat. I don't know where or when I picked up the habit, but at this point it's firmly instantiated. I'll make myself lunch, sit down at the table, grab one of a rotating selection of cookbooks and food-writing omnibuses, and proceed to read about cream biscuits while downing PB&J. I recognize that this behavior bears no small resemblance to paging through Maxim while jerking off, and I'm moderately ashamed of it.

Not that I'm going to stop.

Besides, I'm turning 27. I have no idea what I want in life or how I got where I am now, and I have at least eight simultaneous and contradictory plans for what to do next. I need guidance. And thanks to my shameful cookbook addiction, I know just where to turn. Aside from the Bible, what single book purports to instruct you more comprehensively than The Joy of Cooking? Joy is postively Delphic in scope, the place to turn for advice on everything from pheasant to petit fours. It clocks in at 1,136 pages and is about to become, in its much-maligned 1997 edition, my new I Ching.

It'll be -pardon the expression- a piece of cake. I'll simply close my eyes, flip to a random page, and point. At which point Joy will reveal my future to me in all its currant-studded glory. Let's have a go, shall we?

p.189: Braunschweiger is the most popular of the liverwursts.

Just because something's a superior liverwurst doesn't mean it's not still liverwurst. A job is a job.

p.223: Pastas should be cooked until tender yet firm.

Life is contradictory; strive for balance. Or possibly: don't work out too much.

p.787: Experienced cooks know that biscuits are quick and easy, but, frankly, anyone who has never made a biscuit is apt to be daunted by the mystique.

New things are scary. Biscuits are delicious.

p.908: Keep in mind that these are the most challenging and delicate of pastries, and proceed the way porcupines...are said to make love.

Oh, help.


Ellie said...

No, really? Porcupines? My Joy is spiral bound, and thus has different pagination.

This is an interesting and appealing way to make one's way through life. I wonder how it would come out differently if we used the Vegetarian Epicure. Or Moosewood.


Daniel said...

If you want a clear direction in life, try Marcella Hazan's "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" (my personal Bible)--she always tells you exactly what to do and how to do it (as Italian grandmothers usually do). No porcupines, though.