In the Introduction to my Larousse Gastronomique (which professes itself “the World’s Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia”), it refers to the history of gastronomy as “the story of those who took part in its evolution and [who are] responsible for establishing what is, in effect, one of the cornerstones of civilization. Gastronomy reflects society, and studying [it] provides a glimpse of the history of society itself.” Gastronomy, it goes on to say, “is not static. Like music and the visual arts, it has never ceased to evolve.”
I remember my best friend since high school commenting that we were much too “obsessed” with food in my family, and I thought I could hear the implication in her tone that this preoccupation was responsible for my weight problem. As a failed bulimic, I had to acknowledge she might have had a small point (I say failed because I had the binging part down; it was the purging part I never got the hang of). And I also cannot deny that the “cocktail” part of this gastronomic glue (the euphemism my parents used for pretty heavy boozing) was not altogether positive. However, this is not a book about my journey through bulimia or about eating disorders at all. Or the excesses of alcohol. Because I’ve come to see through the years that despite the negative parts of it all the communal trough held us together with as many positive aspects as negative, and that the aim of providing sustenance, as my friend saw the role of food, was simply not enough—nor was it really possible—for us at least. Not only did this cooking/eating/imbibing provide the glue for the culinary fabric of our interaction within our nuclear family, it served to connect us with others, for to have guests and to feed them well meant that we cared about that person’s well-being, to care for them while they were at our table or otherwise.
An excerpt from the second prologue of my wood fire cookbook/memoir. I need to finish one more read through and then get going on it. My first nonfiction endeavor.
Happy Wednesday. Some grilled pork chops today, maybe a few eggs, some liver…