I spent the evening browsing and wandering around The Elliot Bay Book Company, my favourite place in Seattle. It is a dream. A large warehouse like space. Rows of wooden bookshelves. Even three rows of essays and criticism. And staff recommendations that are generally right on the money. I often take a look at their food section and read a snippet or two out of M.F.K Fisher’s collected works. Her letters and essays are so stylish. Her diction and wit immediately make my own day’s work on my dissertation feel dowdy and dull. I mean, why couldn’t I some how come up with the title How to Cook a Wolf? Best case scenario: overwhelmed by her finesse I sit down in a corner and begin scribbling ideas that have been slow to form all day.
Anyway, today my perusing led me to a little red cookbook charmingly titled Lunch at the Shop: The Art and Practice of the Midday Meal by Seattle-based Peter Miller. Miller’s design bookstore on second avenue has been around for years and in this lush book he chronicles the pleasures of snatched culinary minutes over a shared midday meal. The setting is a long wooden table around which his colleagues gather. There is no microwave, no big to-do. Instead you can imagine tartines, smeared with tuna and avocado, sprinkled with olive oil or whatever your fridge might offer in the way of cold cuts and such. Hot coffee wafting out of thermoses. Maybe even last night’s meatballs stuffed into fresh baguettes. I would buy the book just for the introduction, the most wonderful manifesto to unpretentious eating for a city that is, I sometimes feel, an infuriatingly pretentious place.
I also perused and purchased best Food Writing, 2013. The essays are ridiculously good, a potential coffee table book (with no photographs) too difficult to pass up. After dinner this evening, I entertained myself by reading an essay by Corby Kummer originally published in The Atlantic. The essay is marvelously titled “Tyranny: It’s What’s For Dinner.” Ha. Too true. Nothing makes my reliably robust appetite plummet more than a starchy waiter or chef or server or maitre-d being pedantic about pronunciation or catty about my choice of wine. Kummer’s wry observations about tasting menus and molecular gastronomy are welcome to a person like me who loves the pleasure of eating more than I love to instagram, or namedrop the latest restaurant I went to for dinner, or drone on endlessly about some new food trend. Harissa. Hominy. Whathaveyou.
My lunch fortuitously was a simple scallion omelet with a spring salad. On a charming ceramic plate made by my mother Anupama Pant at Earth to Fire. It was delicious.