family, france, and the meaning of food
i felt the effect of this book before i even read it. being the cookbook store’s pick for last year’s food + thought biography star, it spent a lot of time on my holds’ list. sometime in the winter, i decided to rearrange my furniture in my living room (at that point, it was really only the table) to reflect the idea that the table comes first. all of my solo time and entertaining time revolved around the table, so why shouldn’t it be in the centre of the room? it has only shifted slightly with the addition of my comfortable seating (for reading purposes, of course), and i’m so glad that i’ve finally read this. the ideas are simultaneously everything i’ve ever thought and a whole new way of thinking about things. just like the most delicious food.
“The truth that variety is the spice of life carries within it the implicit recognition that monotony is the daily meal.” (73)
“In truth, much, perhaps most, of the good in our lives comes from recognizing the fragile and temporary basis of what we choose to do, and then doing it anyway. We don’t have to believe in natural or absolute grammar to believe in beautiful sentences. We don’t have to believe in natural monogamy to work at a happy marriage. All the good stuff is at once universal and overwhelming, and local, tempered by taste, finely articulated to the place and moment. When we have a child in a foreign country, it is all foreign and all child. When we have an omelet in Spain, it is all Spain and all omelet. When we eat beautifully in 2011, we are both free diners and prisoners of the table of our time.” (107)
“The very best of what Passard is doing-say, the cucumber broth with herb ravioli-is as straightforward as a vegetable garden and as complex as the system that makes it run.” (141)
ps. nice approach to using e-mails as a framework for this story…