6.13.2010

Food

One can always talk about food. One can always talk over food. One can always let oneself not-talk when one is eating.

I have just finished reading "Letter from Istanbul: The Memory Kitchen" in the April 19, 2010, New Yorker. Though I work in a restaurant, I have at no point seriously entertained making food my life. I mean that I haven't really thought about becoming a food writer, nor have I thought about pursuing any more formal training in cuisine than my current work. I'm not about to head off to culinary school, and I'm certainly not going to pursue a degree in food sociology. I won't even move to another restaurant to learn another cuisine.

And yet I am moved by the idealism of many chefs. In this case I have in mind Musa DaÄźdeviren, the subject of the article I've just finished. He argues that good cuisine, interesting cuisine, reflects geography (as opposed to ethnicity, e.g.). He argues that it reflects culture. His three restaurants in Istanbul serve dishes as they are made elsewhere in Turkey; and when he travels to buy gathered herbs or female turkeys, he asks people what they serve at weddings, what they serve at funerals, and so on.

These questions are part of what caught my attention. What is the scope of my own eating? I can answer easily about love for diner food and the ritual breakfasts I have with friends at different establishments, but the more revealing answer would reflect what I do in my own kitchen, even if I don't gather my own ingredients or often bake my own bread.

Tonight I melted butter in a pan and put two slices of (bought) whole wheat bread down to brown. I poured pre-shredded cheese onto the slices of bread, then put them together. I put the sandwich in my toaster oven to melt the cheese through, and in the hot little pan I fried a single egg, which I later put in the sandwich. The whole process was inelegant. I had to pry the sandwich open after melting it shut, and I wasn't patient enough with my fried egg: I accidentally broke the yolk. Yet the result was mine. No one has ever taught me to make and egg and cheese sandwich just that way.

Whom, if anyone, will I teach?