New Posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays -- er generally

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The School of Essential Ingredients


For me, art is an essential part of my life. Painting with rich use of color, writing with the perfect set of words are the obvious arts; but there are others, ones that don't get considered quite so much as being arts but are.

One of them that I admire the most in others is cooking. I love to watch a gifted cook work and although I do cook, of course, I am not a great cook. I don't have the inner something that turns cooking into an art form. I definitely consider cooking and good food to be part of energy builders.

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister uses words to describe cooking as not only an art form but a spiritual exercise. Bauermeister's descriptions of how one thing is put together with another to create an entirely new thing, to touch emotional and physical senses, would inspire anyone to try again with food.

In the book, through a cooking class and the various people who have come to take lessons from Lillian, who runs a restaurant, the reader is taken on a rich journey of not only food but personality. How does one food or ingredient impact another? This is true in all the arts. Definitely this is a book that a connoisseur of food will appreciate-- likewise one of beauty in life.

There is a lot of subtle and lovely wisdom in the book. There are no recipes but just the essence behind them, the reason they were created. Following are a couple of quotes that I particularly liked:
"We're all just ingredients, Tom. What matters is the grace with which you cook the meal."

"Life is beautiful. Some people just remind you of that more than others."

"As a sensualist, your ingredients are your first priority," Lillian remarked, holding up the bottle of thick, green olive oil. "Beautiful, luscious ingredients will color the atmosphere of a meal and whatever follows it, as will those which are mean and cheap."

3 comments:

Annotated Margins said...

It's all a matter of taste. You're probably a better cook than you think. Have you seen the movie, Cooking Your Life, about Zen priest and chef, Edward Brown? It's a good movie. I've met Ed Brown. He's a hoot and a holler.

robin andrea said...

Interesting, rain. I am not an artist, but I do absolutely resonate with the sensual essence of food. Roger and I both love cooking. The delicate mixing of certain spices (we especially like to make Indian food), the combining of flavors and aromas... just so deliciously enticing. This book sounds fantastic.

Annotated Margins' comment about Edward Brown reminds me of my favorite bread baker from Tassajara. I'll have to check out that movie.

Kay Dennison said...

I don't cook anymore -- because cooking for one is no fun and I don't do dinner parties anymore. I used to love cooking a lot and was always trying new recipes or making up new dishes. It really is an art.