"... an unstuffed turkey is like a jigsaw puzzle of the American flag with a piece missing right in the middle."
- from "Stuffing: A Confession" in Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin
Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
by Laurie Colwin
Open Road Media, 2014
(originally published, 1988)
source: publisher via NetGalley for review consideration
For two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I am obsessed with the meal... to brine or not to brine, twice baked or mashed, how many sides, will four pies suffice, etc. Never mind the logistics of fitting everyone around the table or what time dinner should be served.
As I fussed with recipes, shopping, and planning, Laurie Colwin was like an old friend whose quiet presence reassured me it would all turn out just fine. During this time, I was too preoccupied to read much, but her short essays were the perfect diversion. I made time to read a few every evening.
By 21st century standards, the essays in Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen certainly feel dated, but Colwin's warmth and personality shine through, so I didn't mind one bit.
And that's really the point, anyway. We no longer discuss whether stuffing belongs inside the bird, but our feelings behind the stuffing are timeless. Doesn't every family take pride in their special stuffing recipe?
Colwin, a prolific writer of both fiction and nonfiction, died suddenly in 1992 when she was only 48 years old. Last month Open Road Media released her work in ebook format, making it possible for a new generation of digital readers to discover her talent.
I hope they do.
"... when the chips are down, the spirit is exhausted and the body hungry, the same old thing is a great consolation. When people who must provide meals are too tired to think of what to cook, those old standbys come to the rescue. They are things a person can cook half asleep."
- from "The Same Old Thing"
"..this implies that I do not like to eat al fresco. No sane person does, I feel. When it is nice enough for people to eat outside, it is also nice enough for mosquitoes, horse and deer flies, as well as wasps and yellow jackets."
- from How to Avoid Grilling
"A long time ago it occurred to me that when people are tired and hungry, which in adult life is much of the time, they do not want to be confronted by an intellectually challenging meal; they want to be consoled.
When life is hard and the day has been long, the ideal dinner is not four perfect courses, each in a lovely pool of sauce whose ambrosial flavors are like nothing ever before tasted, but rather something comforting and savory, easy on the digestion -- something that makes one feel, if even only for a minute, that one is safe."
- from "Nursery Food"
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