August 10, 2009

What am I gonna do with all these pine nuts?

Butter. Melted butter. That's what looks like is floating on the top of my coffee this morning as I decided to forgo milk for that smidgen of cream that was left in the fridge. My heart may not thank me but my soul (and my palette) are content to share in my potential demise.

I have several tabs open in my browser. One for "Julie & Julia", one for the Seattle Culinary Academy, one for the Culinary Institute of America, one for cooking aprons by Sara Smedley (inspired by the aforementioned film), and one of food photography. If only I had some kind of running theme to work a post out of... hmmm?

So yesterday, Kendall & I went to see "Julie & Julia". Given the fact that I blog and am considering the possibility of pastry school it seemed loosely appropriate to my general life scheme at the moment. (Gee, y'think?) Sigh. I liked it. Yes, a lot.

In one scene of the preview, Julie Powell (Amy Adams) tearfully tells her husband that she "was drowning and [Julia] pulled [her] out of the ocean". I told Kendall that would be me. He wasn't so sure. Then within the first 10 minutes of the film he realized that it was like watching me on film. I very much felt for Julie Powell and her struggle at "finding herself". I also took solace in the fact that Julia Child didn't embark upon her own culinary journey until her 40's. There is hope for me yet.

Now let it be understood that I will not be undertaking a blog about someone blogging about someone's cookbook. Nor will I be undertaking what would obviously be a formula already established by the aforementioned Powell. But this blog will certainly continue with its smattering of food-themed posts and, perhaps, my adventures into moving more firmly into that world. Time will tell. But the movie touched a few nerves within me. That my love of food runs very, very deep, while not an intellectual revelation, was something of a heady emotional enlightenment. And, what came as a great relief to me after watching this film was that I have firmly given up any desire for fame. (Yeah... I said it. And, no, this blog is not meant to function as some kind of substitute. Moving on.)

Oooh child, lemme tell you what! When I was in my 20's that's what got me up in the morning. I used to have conversations with friends about what kind of bets would be placed regarding who would make it onto the cover of "Vanity Fair" first. It makes me laugh to recall this now (kind of like a high school senior portrait). It used to feel so pressing, sooooo important. And I remember those feeling viscerally. Now it feels frivolous and uninspiring. No, I don't want to be famous anymore... I'd rather be content. Doesn't that just sound so much more satisfying? And, fortunately, more mature? It makes me sigh with relief just to say it. Fame is so outside of oneself whereas contentment feels pleasantly private, personal... and powerful.

A couple sitting behind us in the theatre would "ooh" and "aah" every time food appeared on screen. Needless to say, they were oohing and aahing a lot. But especially when desserts were presented. (My kind of peeps.) These people clearly loved food and likely derive that kind of soul-nourishing that comes from such devotion. And that's one of the things that struck me about my own love of food. Its preparation doesn't come from a place of ego (like some chefs I've worked with) as much as it comes from the heart. God, I know that sounds so flippin' corny and hardly literary but it is true. Hearing those murmurings of imagined delight and satisfaction stirred me deeply. THAT'S what I'm going for each time I bust out a batch of cupcakes, or a dozen cookies, or a multi-tiered monolith. The sense that what you do is having a direct effect on another's feeling of happiness if even for only a moment. The idea that you've brought a bit of good into someone's world. In other words, contentment.

There is obviously something primal about food since it is, after all, a necessity. But it's that additional ingredient of emotional satisfaction that makes it transcendent, sublime, spiritual. I don't think of myself as a glutton (though my pants may disagree from time to time) but I relish food from a place of both utter delight and profound appreciation. Good food doesn't pass my lips without the thought or exclamation that I am most grateful to be able to partake in such solace. That for the talents of those who created it, the potential lives lost in its preparation, and the immeasurable sacrifices of those who harvest it... I am indebted with gratitude and imbued with, yes, contentment.

Forest for the trees, Kids. Forest for the trees.


  1. I love this post Beefy! You sound happier in this post than you've sounded for a while. I'm glad the movie had such an impact...

    Sometimes, we need a book, or movie, or another person to hold a mirror up to us before we can feel content eh? It's so hard to achieve that by yourself.

    And, though I've never had your cupcakes (yet!) they positively ooze love, just as much as tastiness.

  2. Bravo Dear Beefy! You write from the heart & with such eloquence & class.

    I feel what you mean ~ when I cook it is certainly with love.

    Fabulous post :D

  3. Such a heartfelt post, Beefy! I wish you newfound clarity in regard to your journey. I hope to go to culinary school later in life, just for my own personal fulfilment. I saw the movie with my mom on Friday and we both loved it. We also oohed and ahhhed a lot! :)

  4. Well, you've just sent a bit of good into my world today! I'll be feeling a little contentment myself as I sew more aprons and towels. Thanks so much for including them in such a thought provoking post! xo

  5. Just checking in B! Well said Ma Dear!! I hear ya! And I couldn't agree more. Keep are bound to get your hands on somthin' great. Missin you! xoxo~g

  6. i totally agree. there is a wonderful sense of caring and nurturing that food represents. that's why it's such a joy to cook for loved ones and for loved ones to feel they are cared for when someone cooks for them.

  7. I have to tell you, I am becoming more and more a fan of YOUR work. It's odd that I chose today to make the lemon ice cream sandwiches with blueberry ribbon (which I found on your bog). The same day you post about your deep love of food.

    I think this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship sir.

    P.S. I'ma hafta have one of those aprons now!

  8. Jessie Smith, ConfectioneryAugust 10, 2009 at 7:50:00 PM PDT

    Hi there-

    I just wanted to say I thoroughly enjoy your writings and musing-occasionally one comes across a like-minded soul.

    I enjoy your writing style (brief but content-full), your personal taste and voice.

    I find myself ooh and aah-ing at most of the images and mentionings on your blog.

    I myself have recently this year started my own cupcake & sweets business down here in Portland-without a culinary background mind you, although an arts-related one(painting/graphic design/illustration) and would like to take a moment to further encourage you to do what makes you happy and grin.
    Keep on keepin' on!


  9. Can't wait to see this film! I am seconding Jane's comment too!

  10. yay!

    1. you totally need to go to culinary school - you would be beyond amazing

    2. so glad to see you writing more :)

    3. i'm dying to see the movie!!


  11. contentment. it's a lovely word and an even better state of mind. I think you're becoming the ever enlightened one and you're only one month into your
    40th year...imagine how you'll be when you hit 41!

  12. love this well written and full of substance (much like good food, huh?!).

  13. Having owned a bakery/cafe for 10 years I can tell you to bake just bake (I sold the business 3 years ago and made enough profit to take a year off work). Skip the pastry school. Get a job in a shop you love and bake. Going to pastry school is expensive. 2 best bakers I ever hired (besides my self of course) never went to pastry school I fired at least 3 people that went to the California Culinary Academy. The only way you are ever going to make good money at baking is to have your own spot. So go to work for someone for a year or two and bank all that money and the money you would have used to go to school and find a hole-in-the-wall. When you turn that hole in the wall into a stylish secret baked goods spot you will be a baker and shop owner. A super style driven person with a keen eye and taste-buds doesn't need anything but an apron, butter and experience.

    PS I mean bake all the time at least 1 thing per day besides work. Bake, bake, bake!

  14. Oh yes Oh yes, I loved the movie too. And completely identified with Julie Powell... Critics be damned!


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