Alone in the kitchen…

Alone in the
Kitchen with an Eggplant: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone
edited
by Jenni Ferrari-Adler
Fresh from my friend’s garden:
the cutest eggplant in all the land
First, a public service announcement about the power of your
library’s online catalog*:
This book, previously completely unknown to me, ended up in my
hands when I did a library catalog search after work (just like a patron! [this is oddly
thrilling]) for books by Nora Ephron. Since she contributed an essay to this
collection, up popped the book on the screen. (Thank you, all you diligent catalogers,
who made that moment possible.) 
And I was seduced by the title, which is also
the title of an essay by the great Laurie Colwin. 
I tell you: Embrace
serendipity, and your library catalog will reward you with astonishing delights!
OK, now back to regularly scheduled programming…

So, yes, this book is a collection of essays that all deal with
cooking or dining alone. It’s not precisely the jolliest of topics, then, is
it?
Some of the writers actually embrace the whole dining alone thing.
(See “Beans and Me” [dreadful title, no?] by Jeremy Jackson. The guy loves
eating alone. And he makes a decent case for why.)
And others are a lament. 

But most address the weirdness that often results when one dines solo: the odd food combinations a person would never own up to, the eating-while-standing-up, the guilt from not preparing elaborate meals for oneself alone (even though, sure, you’re worth it; but who really wants to go to the trouble?)

And like most collections of essays, there are some that are
completely perfect, and others that made me skim hard. (Even now, upon hearing
this confession, the ladies of the book club collectively gasp. The librarian skims! And admits it!)
I was all about embracing the randomness of finding this book, so
I read or skimmed everything it contained—you never know what wonders you might
discover in such a collection—but I’ll save you some time, if you wish, by
recommending… The Good Stuff.
First, the unexpected treasures:
“How to Cook in a New
York Apartment” by Laura Dave
“Beans and Me” by Jeremy Jackson
And now, the ones I knew I’d like:
“Dinner for One, Please, James” by Ann Patchett
“Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant” by Laurie Colwin
“Potatoes and Love: Some Reflections” by Nora Ephron
The wondrous Nora Ephron, of course, made me laugh. Here’s the
line:
“Of course, you can always get someone to make the mashed potatoes
for you, but let’s face it: the reason you’re blue is that there isn’t anyone to make them for you. As a
result, most people do not have nearly enough mashed potatoes in their lives,
and when they do, it’s almost always at the wrong time.
(You can, of course, train children to mash potatoes, but you
should know that Richard Nixon spent most of his childhood making mashed
potatoes for his mother and was extremely methodical about getting the lumps out…
The point is that perhaps children should not be trained to mash
potatoes.”  (p. 244)
Yes, the woman was a genius. And now I’m really wondering if that’s true about Richard Nixon… 

2 thoughts on “Alone in the kitchen…

  1. Unruly, you're back! I'm so glad. This looks like a good collection. I eat by myself quite a lot and really have gotten to prefer it. It makes meals with people feel more special, or more intense, depending on the situation. LOL Richard Nixon. I can see him, sweaty upper lip and all, working on those taters.

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