Friday, July 14, 2006

Wanted for my Birthday: New Manners

Early birthday gifts indicate I'm getting to be a one horse cart. Or a one cart horse? This was my last day at work before my holiday birthday week. In addition to a nasty practical joke (scheduling me last minute for a meeting I was unprepared for, which turned out to be cake!), they also heaped me with lovely food books.

And they really are nice, thoughtful gifts, with nice thoughtful cards. And I was poorly behaved because the last thing I wanted to do was sit, eat cake, and not work. Which is a perfect indicator that I really do need to sit, eat cake, and not work. Not to mention the fact that I was really having a hard time being nice about it, which is just awful. And besides completely reading my character as food and books, they all address the relaxation element too... I am so easy to see through (or awful).

So here's what I got:
Serene Cuisine by Nicky Moona features "traditional yogic recipes for themind and body." Hmmm, no message in there. Actually, I took yoga classes with the friend who gave me this one, and we trade cooking tips. We once had a "tree-off" - a competition on who could do a standing tree pose the longest in the office. This friend has since developed a disturbing number of food allergies and has had to re-evaluate everything she eats and cooks. Despite all of this, I think she gave this to me because of the great clean, spacious, design. And there are yoga poses for every recipe...

The Purity Cook Book is a classic of Canadian cuisine. Most Atlantic households have one, and if they don't they should. I've been whining for over a year about how bad I am at cakes, and the friend who gave me this one comes from a family who swears by the Purity Cook Book. She says that if I follow these recipes, nothing can go wrong. I haven't made anything out of this yet, but I believe her implicitly- that's the way Purity is.

The Urban Picnic by John Burns and Elisabeth Caton was a gift from someone I'm just getting to know. But I have noticed that from stray conversations that he likes to picnic. This is something I used to do as a kid, with my mom (on bleed-to-death-on-the-cutting-rocks-and-sting-you-clean-salty-air beaches); and later on with my local boy, but I guess we fell out of it. The gift giver has a wife, two young children and similarly placed friends and seems to see the picnic as a confluence of the social and the culinary that works well for everyone. I just opened the book by chance to avocado dressing (hmmm)- so I think this will work for me whether I ever eat any of its food outdoors or not.

The fourth book, you could argue, isn't really food related: Botanical Illustration by William Wheeler. Apart from a few pine cones and tulips, it happens to depict edible botanicals: strawberries, corn, grapes, wheat, figs, fungus, etc. W.W. is the author, not the illustrator. The illustrations are all collections from eighteenth and nineteenth century French and English collections (I think) and follows the development of illustration techniques. All of which was critically important without photography or global economies run on refrigeration and superspeed transportation. It must have been like wondering over durian fruit and other delectables I can only read about...

So I have plenty to do on my holidays, and it does look interesting. I can kind of see why people like birthdays and holidays so much.


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