Thursday, November 1, 2012


Perhaps it seems odd to write about food on a blog so devoted to sensuality. Sensuality need not be so narrow. I'm loving the definition of sensuality as "unrestrained indulgence in sensual pleasures," with sensual defined as "arousing or excited the senses or appetites." Just the words in those definitions are tantalizing. I find it infinitely possible to explore life sensually. I feel too much.

A brief browse of the library shelves yields slow cooker recipes, recipes for health, recipes for people who dislike cooking. I cannot stand cooking for necessity. Seldom found are the books created by and for people carrying on a love affair with food. Seldom found are the people whose senses are aroused by the fine texture of good flour, the rich hunks of butter in a pie crust, the incomparable aroma of that buttery crust browning. I bake for the sheer love of the thing. Boxed cake mixes and bread machines are blasphemy. Wooden spoons, hand kneaded dough, and quality ingredients are the essence of baking. Remove the essence and the whole experience whithers.

The recipe titles leave all but the most experienced food connoisseur wanting. Poached winter fruits with crème anglaise does not sound appetizing or overly special, but oh what the picture of that miraculous dessert will evoke. When poached in wine and amazingly aromatic spices, plums and apples become complex and otherworldly. Words on a page mean nothing. Texture, taste, piquant scents, mouthfeel are all essential. Food creates memories, desserts all the more so. Beyond the pure sensuality of a properly prepared dessert, there is a gratification in sharing that beauty with others.

“If you are careful,' Garp wrote, 'if you use good ingredients, and you don't take any shortcuts, then you can usually cook something very good. Sometimes it is the only worthwhile product you can salvage from a day; what you make to eat. With writing, I find, you can have all the right ingredients, give plenty of time and care, and still get nothing. Also true of love. Cooking, therefore, can keep a person who tries hard sane.”
― John Irving, The World According to Garp

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