Does this basil make my butt look big?
Greenmarket; Aix en Provence, France
I’ve been talking about a blog for well over a year now. At a meeting of local chefs and cooks last week, a friend announced (unannounced to me) that I was close to having one ready. My eyes went all Little Orphan Annie. I felt like I’d been dropped head-first into a big, cold pool with nothing but deep ends. I figured I’d better get busy.
Ultimately, my sweet friend did me a massive favor. I’d been talking without doing for far too long and we both knew it. It’s so comfortable to talk about starting. Starting something, anything. At the same time, I’d been thinking about starting a better eating and exercise program – known generally as the eat less move more plan. I figured combining blogging and cooking and eating and moving was as good a place as any to start. Sometimes I just need to stop thinking about the size of my butt and DO something. Are you feeling me, as the kids say?
The plan is to write to you with recipes and stories of what I’ve been baking and cooking of late. I’ve also got some new class ideas, and I’m finally going to get to work on the series of Divas cookbooks I’ve been threatening to start for a couple of years now. More on that later.
Now for what has inspired all this talk about eating and living better. I spent 3 weeks in Italy and France with my daughter last summer. She had won a scholarship to an international dance program in Florence, and spent a month there before I flew over and joined her. I’ll spare you the travelogue, but I have many photos to share. And lots of food stories – I kept a food journal, you see. My daughter was living on the 10,000 calorie-a-day dancer in a hot (seriously hot) climate, and I felt sort of anthropological as I recorded her food intake compared to mine.
The dancer that pizza built; Florence, Italy
The cooking and eating we did there has had a deep and lasting effect on how I continue to look at food and cooking. It got me back to the ingredients and simple methods that have informed my cooking all along. And we were both struck by how radically different the European pace of life is from our typical daily lives. We both returned with the idea that it might just be good to slow things down a bit. To leave room for simple enjoyment during any given day. We’ve experienced mixed success. But that doesn’t mean we’ve failed. Rather, the thought returns frequently to give us a poke. 2012 is a nice round year for paying attention differently.
Buffalo Mozzarella, Bologna
Another food phrase I came across the other day, courtesy of Barry Estabrook is: “Meet your meat.” When it comes to meat, I suspect that one person’s “artisanal” is another’s working damn hard to deliver a quality product. But it’s sure as hell authentic. When my son and daughter were (both!) here for Christmas, we made a pilgrimage out to Dot & Rick Gallager’s Shane Creek Bison Ranch ranch for some meat for them to take home. The herd put on quite a show, running from the round bale feeders up to the top of the hill, then back down, then back up, then back down. On each downhill run, Max and Lydia would back rapidly away, until they realized it was all a celebratory game on an unusually warm, sunny December afternoon. Meeting one’s meat doesn’t get much more authentic than that.
Shane Creek Bison Ranch, Columbus, Montana
Welcome to the deep end of the pool. It’s feeling more comfortable already. More to come.