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Recipes and Stories

Words on the Past

When it came time to write the inaugural essay for this page, the thought that kept swimming to the surface was a theme from an essay I wrote last year: with thousands of “blogs” crowding cyberspace and literally millions of words floating around on the Internet, does the world really need yet another one?
Probably not; almost certainly not.
Most blogs (horrid word, that) are just silly, self-absorbed, attention-getting streams of consciousness that begin and end with the author’s ego. They have about as much substance as a cozy Hallmark moment.
Do I really want to add more of that to the world just to get attention?
But then it occurred to me: fool, you just started your own web site. Your name is has been dot-commed. The whole purpose is to get attention, and if you didn’t want to do that, you’d never have gone to this much trouble. What’s all this demure posturing about?
The ugly truth about writers is, we can’t stop ourselves. Just like painting, composing, sculpting—writing is a compulsion we can’t help. We’d do it even if no one read it, even if we were dogged by critics who said our words were no good.
There are countless novels tucked away in boxes under the author’s bed, novels that no one else has—or ever will—see.
But just because there’s a compulsion to put words on the page, it does not follow that those words have to be vacuous. If this turns into little more than a lot of navel-gazing streams of time-wasting, meaningless fluff, it’s no one’s fault but my own.
The contributions here may not be regular; but I do promise not waste my and your time just to keep myself in front of you.
Having said all that, from here on, this is what you’ll find here: nothing new.
I have spent most of my life looking backwards into history, and what really interests me in the kitchen is less of where we are going than where we have been.
Most food professionals nowadays spend too little time thinking about that past, and it shows. Cooking is no different from anything else: without a firm understanding of where we’ve come from, the cooking, no matter how clever, will have no roots, and without those, like spring lettuce pinched from its bed, it soon withers and is forgotten.
This page looks back to the kitchens of our past. They weren’t perfect, but they still define our kitchens present and future, whether we like it or not.
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