Thursday, June 23, 2005

soil & soul

I recently made a reference to lots of good reading - a trend which has thankfully continued. Lately, my mind and reading table have been occupied with books about food, both eating and growing. This week I digested Scott Chaskey's This Common Ground, an ode to organic farming by an experienced farmer, a talented poet and a patient man. Chaskey charts the benefits to soul and soil and in this description of the seasons on Quail Hill Farm CSA in Amagansett, NY which he ran for many years. My subway reading has been Waverley Root's The Food of France. Root's book, which is arranged as a travelogue of sorts, loudly celebrates the local forces which create cuisine (geography, politics, culture, etc.). Originally published in 1958, the book was claiming the importance of terroir for food and and wine long before organic farming was a necessary reaction to the despoilation of our farmland by "modern farming methods". Compiled three decades later, Andries de Groot's collection of essays, In Search of the Perfect Meal echoes many of Root's ideas about the important of location in formation of cuisine. Samantha was wonderful enough to get me two books of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall - The massive and thorough River Cottage Meat Book, and his seasonally based farm cookbook, The River Cottage Year. I've only begun to cook from the River Cottage Year, trying the lettuce risotto, rhubarb trifle, and a few others, all to great satisfaction. I'm slowly plodding through the Meat Book in the hot weather, hoping for the fall, when the idea of a few hours over a hot stove won't seem so difficult.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

summer catalogue - parts 1&2

After much cataloging and scanning, I've finally finished both parts of my summer catalogue. It's arranged alphabetically, with part 1 covering the first half of the century, and part 2 the second half. While much of the catalogue is given over to the historical avant-gardes, there are many items in the fields of design, architecture, literature, modern thought and culture. I'll be integrating the catalogues into my website soon.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

June slides by

This has been an impossible month, with Samantha and me putting the apartment on the market and trying to imagine just what is next. My reading has taken a turn toward the bucolic, with lots of food related books (both old and new) making it to the bedside table. More about those books later. We've both been separately grappling with the idea of writing, and imagining that our new rural surroundings may aid in that process. Of course, this is a fantasy. Samantha, though has been working on it all along - her blog has become more than a dumping place for the daily brain clutter, or a rehash of interesting links. It's really an investigation of the process of baking, and of becoming a baker, from the inside out. What's more, she's developing readers, well beyond the well-wishing friends and relatives that form every (well most) writers' first audience. I'm just a bit jealous.

I've been wrapped up in the appraisal of the archive of a well-known horror writer. In fact a very nice, very literary chap. This constant exposure to the process of writing, seems to be having an effect on the way I organize my thoughts. Certainly, it helps to demystify the workings of the writers' mind when you see the constant revising, the complete but discarded novels, the thousands of pages written before recognition reveals itself. When craft is laid out in front of you like this, it seems more possible, but much more work.