Monday, July 30, 2007

Alone in the Kitchen...

Recently I was inwardly lamenting the fact that I am cooking for two. Just two. For years I cooked for groups! I always cooked for our family of five, then you add a couple of portions for missionaries or drop-in guests. Then there were the large gatherings of 100 or more. The large group was my favorite. I had become so accustomed to cooking for huge groups of hungry people, when our home cleared out, and the groups went home, I was at a loss. I did not regret the grown-up daughters I had, or the empty nest. I knew they were there in spirit, and just a phone call away - I love technology - and we could be together wirelessly!

Yet, inside my inner cook groaned. Why cook I asked myself? Why? Well,for one, my husband worked hard and a nice meal at the end of the day would be nice. But I must admit, it has been difficult at best, to even run to get the grab and go dinners at a local market. I know many of my friends are now saying really???? You???? Yes, I hate to admit it publicly, but yes. I could barely stand to walk into the kitchen.

Just as I thought the despair would be an insurmountable hurdle of my life in walked Jenni Ferrari-Adler. I was given an advance copy of her new released book "Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant". I have been given new breath! I will once again go into the kitchen and cook. I will attempt to master the ability to cook for two. Just two. I will not be one bit intimidated by my husband's abilities to produce swoon worthy food every time he cooks, no I won't. Time for me to join the ranks and cook small.

Jenni has compiled a cooks collection of essays on eating alone. I devoured the book, and am so glad to have been given a copy! It will be a permanent part of my cookbook collection. However, I must say cookbook reluctantly, as the essays are worthy of being deemed literature and be welcome in my literature collection. Each essay is a glimpse in the personal life of individuals living and eating alone and doing it no different than most of us.

As I read, I found a familiarity with each author. They took me back to those college years. The single dweller of a space made for squirrels it seemed. Oh the memories, the meals, the silly things we did back then. I remembered the summer of the watermelons, the winter spaghetti and then the pregnancies begun with nothing but a soda cracker. The triumph gained by making singularity work. The satisfaction of determination to not crumble under the weight of being alone and eating. Recognizing the person within and feeding them.

Jeremy Jackson will forever be welcome in my home, even if I am not there he will find fulfillment in the pantry. I will forever carry a pound of angel hair pasta with me in the bottom of my purse in hopes of meeting Ben Karlin and convincing him to make me a plate of Salsa Rosa. Colin Harrison and I will share opposite ends of the counter and nod a welcome to each other as we savor the food and companionship only known to the single diner. I will pair Marcella Hazan's and Beverly Lowry's dishes together for an evening meal. Each could be a meal in themselves, but pairing just seems right for two. There are so many other stories to tell and if I ever meet Courtney Eldridge I will demand a few from here, what wonderful stories she must have! And Phoebe Noble, I'm meeting you in Michigan next May!

I could go on and on. But I won't. Do yourself a favor and go now to Amazon and pick up a copy of this book. It is a perfect read for late summer and you never know who'll inspire you to re-claim the kitchen or that single table in your favorite restaurant.