December 9, 2008 § Leave a comment
Since it got cold a week ago, I’ve gained a nice new layer of fat around the middle, which feels as bulky as a life jacket but is probably no wider than a pork chop ordered in a cheap diner. A pork chop girdle, good for attracting canine friends. I have pork on the brain as well. Bacon twice this weekend and for dinner last Friday a roast pork loin with garlic slivers poked into the flesh (the knife-slit flesh); a mustard, salt and pepper rub; and a few good splashes of Knob Creek bourbon poured over the top. Cooked until done, as the old cookbooks say.
In the 18th century, as attested in The Discovery of France, by Graham Robb, French peasants would sleep most of the winter, getting up only now and then for a piss and a bit of dinner. Government busybodies from Paris were appalled…the village as quiet as a graveyard, no industry…I’m thinking New Yorkers could use a bit of that. Everyone is scared-to-terrified—lost job, maybe-soon-to-be-lost-job, no savings to speak of, debt. And we can’t afford to go out and drink, not with cocktails going for $12 to $16 a pop in Manhattan. The solution: afternoon naps and home cooking. I’ve had enough of restaurant food—the best chefs cook better than I do, mais non, but so what? Making the dinner is the journey. And at journey’s end one finds, traditionally, only sorry death…I’m mixing up my analogies, but food and death go together, don’t they? Ask a pig.
Whenever I feel bad about having to cook in my microwave-oven-sized kitchen, I remember a story about Anna Akhmatova entertaining Western guests during the long days of her fame and deprivation. Hospitality demanded that company be served food so she offered what she could: a small dish of boiled potatoes. Knowing, of course, how dramatically pathetic this seemed to them. As a child I yearned to run away and live in the woods on nuts and berries, waiting for Robin Hood or the fairies or a talking lion. Not quite mad enough to try it then, I’m willing to attempt the adult version, and think of my apartment not as too small, poor me, I’m a failure not to mention stupid, but as an enchanted hut in the vast forest, the kind of place where the witch comes up with dinner out of an old bone and a withered stalk. If my cooking skills aren’t quite magic, I’m not really poor either. Not yet.