A Harte Appetite: For Love of Food
I think it was Moliere who observed that, "Some men eat to live while other men live to eat." I know which category I fall into. I love food, glorious food. The word diet has always been a particularly offensive four-letter word as far as I'm concerned. And did you ever notice that the first three letters of that word spell die?
Samuel Johnson could just as well of had me in mind when he said, "A man seldom thinks with more earnestness of anything than he does his dinner."
I've discovered that Julia Child was exactly right when she wrote this in her now classic first volume of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." She said, "Cooking is not a particularly difficult art but like any art it requires practice and experience and the most important ingredient you can give to it is love of cooking for its own sake."
I agree. There's nothing more inspiring to me than coming across a new recipe. In fact, I can still vividly recall the first time nearly 20 years ago that I saw Julia Child's recipe for Coulibiac - filet of sole baked with mushrooms and fish mousse in a choux pastry crust in one of those so-called women's magazines you get in the checkout lane of the grocery store. I just had to make it. And even though its really company fare that serves 8, that's what we had for dinner that night.
Though I might not be quite so impetuous these days, I'm still ever on the lookout for a new or intriguing recipe. I've been known to pester for recipes at restaurants and to buy a whole cookbook just on the strength of one recipe.
If you've ever been on an airplane and found yourself irritated that some previous passenger had torn a recipe from the magazine you are reading -- well, I must confess, it could have been me. I think I know what the gastronome Brillat-Savarin meant when he said, "The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of mankind than the discovery of a star."