Today’s Daily Post prompt: “Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?”
I have not blogged for about a month because I have been caught up with living life. Most of this “living life” has been dealing with work issues, annoying car problems, family obligations, practices to bolster my inner life and spirituality, reading, and cooking. It is this latter activity that dovetails with today’s prompt.
You might expect me to tell you about a novel that has changed my life or a book of poetry that inspires me. No, I am going to answer today’s question with telling you about a single essay, the introduction of a 40-year-old cookbook.
I cannot find the essay online or I would share it with you. And, unfortunately, the revised edition of this book does not have this particular essay. But if you are a vegetarian cook of a certain age you will know this book.
Laurel’s Kitchen: A Handbook of Vegetarian Cookery and Nutrition
by Laurel Robertson, Carol Flinders, and Bronwen Godfrey. (This is not to be confused with The NEW Laurel’s Kitchen which has a different introduction. )
The essay to which I refer is the introduction to the book. Its author, Carol Flinders, describes her shift from being a person who subsisted on the standard American diet (at least in the 1970’s) of meat, over-refined grains, over-cooked vegetables and junk food (AKA “S.A.D.”) to a person of deep spirituality, committed to cooking vegetarian, and focusing her life to caring for her family.
I am not a vegetarian and 40 years later, I find the recipes in this book too labor-intensive and time-consuming. What appeals to me is not her views on vegetarianism or even her particular spirituality. No, it is that one essay at the beginning of this book that has made me see that it is the ordinary things in life — like cooking and caring for one’s family– that should be done intentionally, with great mindfulness and deliberateness.
The author of the introduction describes this mindful living in lovely, vibrant detail. Images of haiku quality abound: a dusting of bread flour on a black cat, the color a wool coat likened to a San Francisco sunset, egg salad spiked with red and green peppers, and the visual image of Laurel cooking akin to a Vermeer painting. She describes the intentional acts of the simple life with such grace and luminosity that I feel drawn to want to live that life too. When I feel like I am racing through life and not giving heed to the simpler things, I find myself drawn back to this book. It is like being drawn into a haiku or a Vermeer painting. So often have I read this essay that my 1970’s paperback copy of this book has disintegrated. It is being held together with clear packing tape.
This original issue of Laurel’s Kitchen is out of print, but if you have it on your shelves, I encourage you to read the introduction.
ljg (c) 2016