I started off the final reading section craving a glass of wine. By the time I got to Coleridge's words on p. 404 I'd cranked up the Grateful Dead. This section evoked memories for me--MP's exploding grape juice, p.377, reminded me of my brother's exploding dog poop (methane experiment). I liked the descriptions of MP and his son, and later his old friend, working together to make beer (p. 388, 394) which reminded me of marathon tomato canning sessions with my daughter, and our whole family working together in spring to take the driveway full of leaf mold and turn it into mulched beds.
Quotes that resonated with me:
"Being both a psychiatrist and a Canadian, he did a magnificent job politely masking his disdain . . ." (p. 393) As the daughter of a Canadian, I love this one.
"Most of what presents itself to us in the marketplace as a product is in truth a web of relationships, between people, yes, but also between ourselves and all the other species on which we still depend. Eating and drinking especially implicate us in the natural world in ways that the industrial economy, with its long and illegible supply chains, would have us forget." (p.408) Ever since we joined a CSA I've thought about the relationships between us and our farmers and the food.
"To try your hand at doing something new is to find out a few new things about yourself, too." (p.409) Starting a blog and learning a teeny bit of html has been an eye opening experience.
As I was reading the Afterword, I reflected on how this book in some ways mirrors my time in the kitchen. Throughout the day I've been reorganizing and defrosting our freezers while getting my sourdough starter going, and in doing so I came across stuff from each of the sections of the book: Kalua pig, cooked in a crock pot not an imu, spaghetti sauce, pizza dough, even really old gorgonzola. I'll close with a photo that ties elements of Cooked together for me. On the left is bread made from the discards of my new starter.
I hate that word, discard, applied to edible food. Instead of discarding the cup of goop, I tossed it into the bread machine and made a loaf. By the same token, I never "discard" chard stems--they go into recipes, soup stock, or my version of Bolognese, the last bag of last year's batch shown here.
Making bread and spaghetti sauce is not new to me, but in addition to sourdough I recently tried my hand at mozzarella, and that's also shown here.
The wine's from a box. ;)
What struck you about the final reading selection, and about the book in general?
Did you grab a fermented beverage and crank up the tunes?
How has reading Cooked affected your kitchen?
Please share what you've been up to, I'd love to see!
Great description of how you enjoyed the end of the book, Kirsten. I don't think I cranked the tunes but I'm pretty sure I had a fermented beverage - it was a homebrew that I made with beet juice in it (which most people who tried didn't really like but I didn't mind because it meant there was more for me!).
I think in terms of how the book has influenced my kitchen the biggest influence has been on making me want to have the same opportunities as MP. I'm so jealous that as part of his job and relative fame he can call up well-known bakers and cooks and fermentos and get tips from them. However, I realize that in many ways we all can do that with the internet, so ultimately I'm jealous of his having the time to do all that he does! I do feel empowered though in the sense that he's shown me in this book that most of us have the ability to learn all of these skills, we just need to put in the time and practice to learn them and then make them part of our skill-set and habits around the home.
Of all the parts of the book the one that had the least influence on how I think about food was the first. I'm just not that impressed with the cooking of meat. I love the taste of meat, and it's pretty much what I always order when I go out to eat, but when I cook at home I almost always cook vegetarian, which is mostly because I was a vegetarian when I learned to cook. These days I'm probably more influenced by cost, and since meat is a more expensive ingredient I tend to save it for special occasions. Maybe at some point I'll desire to learn how to do a pig roast but I'm more excited about the everyday foods and fermentations, the foods that are a part of every meal. If I can learn how to master the process of making a really good whole grain sourdough then I will feel like I have achieved something. Here's a pic of a 100% whole wheat bread I made a little while ago, not MP's recipe, but Peter Reinhart, who is listed in the suggested reading part of Cooked:
And here's a pic of that Beet Beer: