Wednesday, June 10, 2009

the new phone book is here!

Tonight Lisa stopped by to say hi and show me her just-published cook book, Cook Food.

We made tea and she sat in the kitchen with me while I did, um, food-related things. Like make pasta from a prepared sauce. And throw out some stuff I neglected to eat last week. (Not without guilt, understand.) And, triumph, roasted some sweet potatoes just the way Lisa had laboriously taught me to do. She hung out for an hour or so, then Sequoia and I walked her home. Totally casual evening. Nothing to remark upon.

When I got home I sat down at the kitchen table to snack on sweet potatoes and procrastinate on homework by idly flipping through her incredibly beautiful cook book. Which is how I found out that I'm in the acknowledgments! I'm famous!

I now know exactly how Steve Martin felt when the new phone book came out. (Which logically implies that there's a sniper out there reading those selfsame acknowledgments, but let's set that aside for the moment.)

I'm so excited! My name is in a book on Amazon! My whole, entire name! True, I'm praised for my cooking "curiosity," a hilariously polite term for "Lisa, what's cumin?" But I also got a shout out for my sharp editorial eye ("Lisa, remember to explain to people what cumin is") and there's no way I'm looking that gift horse in the mouth.

Mostly, I can't believe I had the privilege of being any small part of the coolness that is this cook book. Hard to explain, but it's strangely sentimental for me (the book, not the acknowledgment -- although, yeah, that too).

Because -- for example -- when I was a kid I was the only kid in school who brought sandwiches on whole wheat bread. In fact, I realize I will not be believed here but: I had to explain to the other kids what it was. They'd never seen non-white bread before. My mom graduated from whole grains to granola to avocados (which were oddly rare back then) to yogurt (new to west coast Protestants).

"Health food" was important in our family, and we were always on the 70s cutting edge of food fashion. We shopped at a tiny "health food store" located in a strip mall. In fact, I think Laurel's Cook Book (my bible when I was 17) mentions something about how great it would be if junk food stores became marginalized, and health food became the real food sold in grocery stores. That dream has pretty much come true, at least in Berkeley. People are about as likely to open a new health food store as they are a video rental place.

My grown up life has definitely been an increasingly refined approach to eating in a way that I believe in, excuse the religious phraseology. But the "belief" has more to do with the idealism that my mom's 70s cooking represented than it did with any specific religious food tenets.

The audacity of food, if you will. That there would be a future that included whole foods that are whole in every sense of the word, including sensory experience. Foods that possess a certain serenity. Food that comes with no ad campaigns, no pesticides, no factory farms, no intercontinental shipping, no substandard labor conditions. And also no asceticism. Lisa's cook book pretty much encompasses that ideal.

And did I mention I'm listed in the acknowledgments?

1 comment:

leesajay said...


that last graf is so poetic. and you know, for as much as talk about food and family, i don't think i really knew about your mom's approach and your laurel's kitchen upbringing until just now. i have to put that on my list of things for us to talk about!