I read the New York Times seven days a week. My favorite days are Wednesdays because of the scrumptious food described in the “Dining” section and Thursdays for thought-provoking expositions of lifestyle in the “Home” section. Once, there was a full page description of a woman who came across an exotic rooster in the woods on her land. She was an artist and began to raise these creatures with huge sprouting crowns of feathers on their heads. To protect them from hawks, she planted unusual grasses and plants whose appearance mimicked the cockerel headdresses. One shadowy photo of an interior room showed a huge medieval press cupboard, carving all over it, majestic turned turnip legs and bun feet. “Who lives like this?” I asked myself as I sipped my second and third cups of coffee, the sun streaming in the kitchen windows, my bare feet on the floor.
In the food section, there’s usually at least one recipe or a description of a dish in a restaurant that I will adapt for our supper, if not that same night, by the weekend when I’ve had a chance to find the ingredients. It might be a simple cheese souffle recipe by Mark Bittmann, the Minimalist Cook, a title I have always thought to be slightly ironic. Then, there are the rampant stories of chefs who cook outrageously, making their own rules as they go along. It’s also amusing to speculate about the competitive camaraderie among the food writers.
As I write this post, I see that what appeals to me most are the stories about mavericks, non-conforming, devil-be-damned expos that feature what seems to make people happy. The ones who don’t paint their walls and leave the plaster cracked, full of character to them, if not for everyone. Those cooks who have a hard time working for anyone else and who cook what pleases them most, not just the customers who flock to their restaurants.
These portraits and vignettes are my weekly bread. Especially on Wednesday and Thursday mornings.