This past weekend was full of culinary delights. The highlight was a celebratory feast cooked by my friend D and her French future husband to celebrate their recent engagement. Yes. That's right. They invited US over to celebrate THEIR engagement so who were we to complain!
For as long as I have known D she has cooked only Kraft dinners and on a fancy night maybe some Shake N' Bake. Since her new French boyfriend came into the picture they have celebrated food and cooking and eating together to the fullest extent. And luckily to our benefit.
The evening was rainy and windy. The meal was cozy and warm. D made an oustanding Beef Bourguignon with potatoes. JB had two - yes two cheese plates with some of the best cheeses I've ever had on them. E brought some bubbly to celebrate and I brought two bottles of nice wine. D played old romantic French accordion music and the lighting was just right.
People always ask me if I love to cook. No. I like what it represents. I like the meals and the sitting around and the laughing and the stories and the music. E on most occasions would rather be in the kitchen. I have a few things I like to make and our bookshelves are lined with some fantastic cookbooks. Claudia Fleming from The Gramercy Tavern has a great one. Madhur Jeffrey's Indian Cooking another great one. More often than not I'm looking at these cookbooks like coffee table books rather than sources of productive inspiration. I don't have the time nor attention span required for cooking. I'd rather entertain the guests or run around getting drinks instead. And I'm always good for clean up.
Tonight when digging around for take out menus for dinner I came across several loose pieces of paper with various recipies that I've carried around with me for most my life. Sue's Apple Crisp. Aly's chili. Carol from Switzerland's shrimp. BJ's spoonbread. Mary's lasagne. Reading through them - stained and crumpled on various size pieces of paper - they took me down memory lane.
Who were these women? Women I no longer talk to. Former boss. Co-worker. Mother-in-law. Friend. But each of them cooked me something delicious at some point in my life. A meal that was literally unforgettable and/or a meal that I associated with them in particular and found impossible to throw away.
When you ask someone to share their recipe what are you really asking? Are you attempting to recreate a night a moment the weather? The time the place the music the way your husband was looking at you that night? Or is it the food. Really and truly the food? Maybe it's the science of attempting to tackle the dish yourself or if you are lucky to make it even better. Regardless to me it's never the same when made again.
Who knows. All I know is that I kept staring at one recipe in particular. It was titled "Camilla's Crepes". For the life of me I couldn't recall the last time I had a crepe nor ever meeting a single Camilla.