Thursday, October 27, 2016

More fun with sharp knives.

If you've ever seen the film WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING, you might remember the scene around the family dinner table where the conversation goes something like this:

"I didn't say Guy Lombardo was Spanish."
"John Wayne was six foot three."
"These mashed potatoes are so creamy."

Well, it's my mother's birthday today (she's in her very very very late seventies (eighty-two)) and we were just eating birthday cake, sorting out the edge bits for a new jigsaw puzzle and discussing whatI'd write if I didn't write crime. Here's the consensus:

"Scottish fiction. What did Sayers write?"
"Crime."
"Oh."
"Remember there was coffee in it too. That's extra liquid."
"Anne Tyler's not crime."
"Some of them just have a tiny wee straight bit."
"Teenage stories for children."
"Eighteen hairpin bends.* And what was the other thing I had to look up?"
"Matlock."
"Oh yes, Dragnet."
"That was crime."

(*On Lombard Street, in San Francisco)

My family are not going to be any sort of help at all, clearly. So I'm on my own. If I was banish-ed (it needs three syllables) from MWA, SinC, and CWA and had to write something else, it would be . . . a cookery book.

The sort of cookery book I love doesn't have a recipe per page with a list of ingredients and a pithy set of instructions; it has the history of the dish; alternatives and additions; perhaps a planting plan for growing ingredients in the garden; and - most important of all - it tells you why you're doing things.



If a recipe says "be careful not to . . . whatever" I want to know why. Will it be tough? Will it break with tradition? Will it fail to rise? Will it taste bad? Will it look funny? Not all of these things matter much to me.

I like nothing better than a chatty cook book that can sit on the kitchen table for weeks to be read over solitary lunches. Even if I only ever make one or two of the recipes, I'll have learned something about food or a bit of kitchen wisdom, or at least have been entertained.

If I could write such a book - called maybe LOW EFFORT, FLASHY RESULTS - I'd be happy.




7 comments:

Paul D. Marks said...

Low Effort, Flashy Results, that's what I need, since I can barely boil water ;)

Art Taylor said...

Love the dinner conversation here--and have to admit I actually love the kind of book you're talking about! I'm a sucker for these as well--and have one on "gin" I'm looking forward to right now. (No need to point out that we don't cook with gin, of course....)

Kristopher said...

I would buy a cookbook with your name on it Catriona. Even if I might not make any of the recipes inside. It would surely be entertaining!

RM Greenaway said...

It would probably end up criminalistic anyway :)

Alan Orloff said...

I like the "low effort" part...

Susan C Shea said...

That's what drew me to Child's and Beck's The Art of French Cooking. Not only how to do something right but why it was the right way to do it. But no one's done that for haggis yet, so you're a shoo in!

Ann in Rochester said...

I'd buy anything with your name on it. Haggis recipe? Why not