Thanksgiving is not a Great Art

This being a cooking blog, some sort of Thanksgiving post is probably expected. I was going to do one, actually, as I was planning on making pear-ginger tarte tatin. But the pears weren't ripe yet, so I made sweet potato pies again. The pies were good, but was there really anything to say about them? The scope of this blog has mostly only included deliberate experiments (or trying new recipes), and sometimes brief recipes of particularly good improvisations. But in fact "particularly good" is not at all the criterion for which improvised dishes or meals get written here and which don't. There are no criteria really, I just post when I feel like it. Some of the most well-remembered meals, usually those that were made to feed to my family, I never write down at all.

How are these statements connected? "I'm very nervous when people talk about it as a great art." "There's a lot to be said for mindless repetitive activity." "It does not interest me if I'm not feeding people." Well, Nigella Lawson said all of them. In the same interview she said she was unfazed "when How to Be a Domestic Goddess came out and I was railed against for being, you know, a traitor to the sisterhood, despite the fact that it was so obviously ironic."  Apparently Nigella expects we all share her level of self-consciousness in the nostalgia for domesticity she purveys.

Her story of how she started: when she was working as a journalist, she found space to think in the repetitive activities of cooking.  Making food, rather than a necessity, was in her story a psychological tool and a lifestyle choice.  Instead of feeding people because she's a housewife, she seems to self-consciously enjoy the fantasies that surrounded housewifery.  But obviously this is not the selfless fantasy of classic femininity.  One cooks for the pleasure of feeding, including the pleasure of feeding oneself.  One returns from an exhausting night of partying to make oneself bread pudding in the semidarkness of one's posh kitchen, and one eats it, alone, in bed.  If one is Nigella Lawson, one stages all this on camera and, I imagine, laughs about it.  What makes her so passionate about food, she is asked?  "I'm greedy."

This blog, on the other hand, is more about curiosity than greed or giving.  Although in trying new techniques and recipes, I often take part in a bit of both these pleasures.

27 November 2010