Friday, April 10, 2009

A Homemade Life

Friday, April 10, 2009

As is my usual routine when there is a new book I desperately want, I picked up Molly Wizenberg's (a.k.a. Orangette) book within days of its release. I could go further into my strange neurosis about how I worry every time that I go to a restaurant that my favorite dish will have run out that night, or how I rush to a movie theater much, much earlier than necessary in order to procure the PERFECT seat (in my defense, does ANYONE like sitting in the front row, or being separated from their movie companions?), or how I have an irrational fear that enough printings weren't ordered of that very book I desired...but that is not what any of you need or wish to read about. I know I'm crazy!

Anyway, I eagerly anticipated Molly's book, and boy, it did not disappoint. Lilting, lovely prose, accompanied by delightful and heavenly-sounding recipes that were carefully plucked from a the life of a woman who appreciates that the memories that one cherishes can be evoked and revisited with a comforting pot of soup or a dark chocolate-coated coconut macaroon. I drank up every word, wishing that each chapter were longer, or that Molly's entire blog were in book form, or even that I might ever have the luxury of sitting down with her, chatting about food in France, life and love.

I have to include just a *few* excerpts-I hope they entice you to run right out and buy the book, or at the very least, add Orangette to your daily reads. Even if you're not a foodie, I can't imagine how you couldn't be swept right up into Molly's world. I'm going to be making her banana bread and French-style yogurt cake this weekend for Easter desserts.

from "La Boule Miche"
Each morning after that, while my mother was getting dressed, my father and I would walk around the block to the bakery. It was always the same order for me: a pain au chocolat and a chocolat chaud. I'd perch myself atop one of the black mushroom caps, kicking my feet against its stem, and lean over the counter to sip the hot chocolate form its white ceramic cup. Sometimes, for an afternoon snack, he bought me one of the small, oblong breads-pain passion, they called them-from a basket by the register. Later in the day, if I got hungry before dinner, I would stuff a little square of chocolate, the kind they give you in cafes when you order coffee, into its doughy center. My father beamed.

from "The Best of All Possible Worlds"
We loved the foreignness in each other, the mispronounciations and bridged gaps. The first time I spent the night in his narrow bed under the eaves of his parents' house, he woke up early and went out for enormous croissants from the bakery around the corner. We sat sleepily next to the kitchen window, drinking hot chocolate from cafe au lait bowls. I invited him to my host family's house for the infamous bouchon-fueled sleepover, and the next morning, we ate oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies for breakfast on my bedroom floor. He invited his friends to join us for a homemade dinner of raclette-buttery cow's milk cheese from Savoie, melted and poured over boiled potatoes, pearl onions, and lacy sheets of ham-and I invited my friends to meet us at Le Beliere, a tiny bistro with lots of smoke and a piano in the corner. It was there that, after a carafe of cheap red and a bowl of mussels in broth, he introduced me to tarte Tatin.

from "The Change Thing"
Soup is a perfect lunch food. It's filling, but unlike a salami sandwich with provolone and sauteed peppers (which would be my second choice), it never makes you want to unbutton your pants or sleep for the rest of the day. My favorite take on the theme is a tomato soup with slices of sweet fennel, fennel seeds, and a few sprigs from our thyme plant on the side stoop. When I was fifteen, I wrote a poem about wanting to immerse myself in a vat of marshmallow fluff, but today I'd much rather take a warm soak in gently simmering tomato soup, preferably with an eye pillow. I'd be happy, in fact, to do it every day. I doubt it would ever get old.

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