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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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January 04, 2013

Filler til I'm inspired...

I'm back home after Christmas and slowly getting everything put away, groceries purchased, finding a place for new presents, etc.

I'm also reading a book January gave me for Christmas titled "The Table Comes First" by Adam Gopnik.  I don't know really how to describe the book.  The book jacket, after posing the question "have we come any closer to discovering the true meaning of food in our lives?" goes on to say that "with inimitable charm and learning, Adam Gopnik takes us on a beguiling journey in search of that meaning ...a journey that begins in 18th century France...and carries us to the kitchens of the White House..." and so on.  It is a beguiling book and is written with great charm and a little tongue in the cheek now and then. 

And there is one passage that so delighted me, that I'm going to share it with you here  Oh, and a brief explanation - in between each of his "essays", he sends an e-mail to Elizabeth Pennell, a famous (at the time) writer, collector of books, believer in cookbooks as literature (sort of), and so on.  Anyway, the e-mails are delightful because in them he is talking to her and rambles on pretty much like I do here.  In his e-mail to Elizabeth titled "Chicken, Pudding, Dogs", he writes, among other things, about a butterscotch pudding he and his daughter, Olivia, had made in honor of her new puppy, whose name is Butterscotch.  He talks about the simple and yet demanding process of caramelizing the sugar, blending the hot mixture with the eggs, and so on.  He asserts that it's the perfect recipe to represent a small, sweet, happy dog - you can't resist it, it makes no demands on your mind, only on your heart.  That takes him to a discussion about having a dog in the kitchen and then just about a dog's life in general.  And that brings him to the passage that, when I read it, makes me feel good:

"The key to dogginess is that dogs are pure creatures of sensation.  ...they absorb life as vast, intriguing, and vaguely replicable clouds of stuff, endlessly interesting--smells and places and actions and times and above all foods--without breaking it down into neat causal sequences of act and effect.  Every dog delights in food, but no dog could cook dinner, which depends on remembering which comes first, the caramel or the cornstarch.  When Butterscotch sees me come home with bags from the grocery store, she leaps with joy as her memory tells her that something good will happen, that there is some vague connection between this thing and the tastes she loves and needs.  But what the sequence is, where it starts and where it ends, obviously baffles her, just as she knows that some cloud-nexus of taking elevators and putting on leashes and making phone calls produces a chance to play with Lily, the puppy upstairs.  But exactly how this works eludes her:  some days when she hears the name Lily she rushes to the door, sometimes to her leash, sometimes goes to the elevator and sometimes to the door on our floor that corresponds to the door on the eighth floor where Lily lives.  It is a joy, obviously, to live life in this way:  her head is, in every sense, in the clouds.  The life of pure appetite and affections, where Butterscotch resides, is obviously a happy one, free not just of intimations of mortality but of any intimations at all:  it is all just stuff rolling at you, some predictably nice, some usually nasty, all rolled up in a big ball that you can eat or push, or chew to pieces as the occasion demands. ... The state in which Butterscotch lives naturally, where tastes just fall our of the sky, in a happy, humming paradise of sensation--we have to sneak up on from behind...Butterscotch is joyful but never surprised by joy, as we are ... because we know how hard it is to get the sequence right, and how lucky we are when we do."

Don't know if you'll get as much pleasure out of it as I did, but probably you will if you've had a happy little dog.  We had Daisy, a cocker spaniel/pomeranian mix and we didn't call her "crazy Daisy" without good reason.  She was a whirling tornado when any of her people came through the door, was ecstatic when given a crushed, empty gallon milk jug (almost bigger than she was) to clamp in her teeth and run up and down the kitchen and hall making an incredible racket, stood at my feet panting with anticipation when I got out a head of cabbage and cut out the core (which was hers and she was johnny-on-the-spot to get it).  I always sort of marveled at her ability to be excited about basically anything.  She was just agog over being alive I think.

So there you have it.  I'm still not finished with the book and imagine I will dip back into it now and then once I've finished it.  It's just that kind of book.  I received real nice presents from all of my children - among others, Heather upgraded my I-phone from a 3G to a 4GS (which I used to take the picture of the book just now) and Chris gave me the king of all umbrellas - not only is it very large, but collapsible, it's also vented and...wait for it...it also collapses down when you press the button!!  I'd never seen one like it and I know I'm really going to appreciate it when I have to walk down the alley to the garage door, key in the code to get in and then get myself and the umbrella inside.  Having the ability to collapse the umbrella while I'm inside and the umbrella is outside is going to make a big difference.  Heather also gave me a Lodge enameled cast iron Dutch oven which I am going to try tomorrow by making myself a pot roast.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will do like it's supposed to and retain moisture.  We also had lots of good visiting, eating, and wine.  Got to spend a nice day with Heather's mother-in-law who lives in Cypress.  Turns out she is into all sorts of craft work also - knitting, crochet, jewelry-making, etc.  I told her she needs to think about opening an Etsy shop! :)

Oh, and welcome to a new follower - a woman who is a member of the Yahoo petitpointers group I belong to.  She mentioned in a post that she has trouble cooking for one after years of cooking for a family so I invited her to visit my recipe page.  She did and sent me a nice note.  Only thing is she tells me she's selected a recipe to try when a friend comes to visit this weekend which makes me nervous!  What if they don't like it???!!

2 comments:

January said...

I'm so glad you're enjoying the book, Mama! It seemed up your alley :)

Christopher said...

Makes me wish I had a little dog like Butterscotch!

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