Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Proustian Moment on the Food Channel

Paula’s Chicken Empanadas call up Warburton's Cornish Pasties

Years ago I worked in Kendall Square and sometimes rode the Red Line to Harvard Square for lunch. It was fun to walk around and decompress from my high tech job.

I was horrified when Warburton's Cafe (now long vanished) stopped selling their Cornish pasties in the Harvard Square shop. Shortly after that, Warburton's followed their pasties into the cold oven of history, and the site became an Au Bon Pain, with O.K. food, but it wasn’t Warburton's.

I remember sitting outside on a bench in the early spring sun with the beggar sparrows cheeping around my feet as the flaky crumbs of the pasty fell from my fingers. Together the sparrows and I devoured that wonderful, savory pasty. Of course, with the buttery crust and the red meat and potatoes within, the pasties were "nutritionally incorrect" and that's probably why the Harvard Square Warburton's stopped producing them. Little demand. Except mine.

Flash forward to Wednesday, when the Food Network’s Paula Deen (she of the butter and mayonnaise recipes) made chicken empanadas on her show. Lordy, I was salivating to beat the band and on Saturday I bought a jalapeno pepper and some pepper jack cheese.I changed the recipe to use my own crust and made other changes to spice things up. Yowza! Couldn't stop eating them. Here is Paula's recipe:
My changes: cut filling in half, except for the jalapeno, add 1/2 sautéed onion and substituted pepper jack cheese. I used adobo seasoning instead of cumin and added the last plantlets of cilantro from the garden before the first freeze.
The crust, which I make in the Cuisinart, is 1 1/2 cups flour, one egg yolk, salt, 1/2 t. medium chili powder, 1 stick unsalted butter and enough ice water until the pie dough forms a ball. Cuisinart pie crust is foolproof. And flaky. You'll love it.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Collection of the Week's Random Proust Musings

I spent the entire weekend thinking about writing, talking about writing and doing everything apropos to writing except actually, well, writing.

Now, of course, I can't wait to get back to my manuscripts. Maybe Marcel felt the same when he went out into society.

I am still dealing with the death of the grandmother in book three.

Here are some blogs and article that I think are worth your while, Proust-wise.

Paintings in Proust:

Observations on Writing and Art

Jay in Equador read Proust and took one hell of a hike:

The Other Odette

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Leisure Guy Reads Proust

Actually, one needs a fair amount of leisure to read Proust. I am still (grimly) plodding through the grandmother's death, irritated by the clueless medics, the antics of Francois, and the Guermantes.

Conflict moves the plot, and this section has it in spades, but Proust, not being a three-murders-a-car-chase-a-couple-explosions-and-raw-sex kind of guy just limns along in Marcels world of home and society, sticking it to practically everyone.

Love it. Love it. Love it.

Proust should indeed be read three times: in youth, middle age and old(er) age. The payoff is, well, Proustian.

the other Odette

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The whole world is still reading Proust

I've been so wrapped up in the U.S. elections that all I read for weeks were newspapers and political blogs. Now that it's over, there's a sense not only of elation but also of letdown.

I will get back to Proust because I am so close to finishing volume 3, which has been, I fear my bête noire. It has just taken forever. No excuses. Writing a lot. Reading other stuff in my so-called genre. Laziness. Take your pick.

Another ambitious blogger is going to take the Proust challenge, so to speak. My only question is: does she think she can read Proust in a few weeks? If so, then I am put totally to shame.
Drop in and see.

We had beautiful weather here the past two days, as they did in Chicago for the victory rally. I do believe the gods smiled.

The other Odette

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Painting in Proust

Today the New York Times Sunday edition had a long article on Painting in Proust by Eric Karpeles. This book looks like a keeper, and if the American economy ever digs itself out of the toilet, I will certainly buy a copy.

In Proust's great masterpiece, he "names more than 100 painters and mentions or describes dozens or works." Who can ever forgot the scenes in Elstir's studio at Balbec?

What a delightful time one would have paging through the paintings that inspired Proust.

The article show a 1922 drawing by Paul Helleu of Proust on his deathbed. He looks so young and calm, as if he just lay down for a nap.

Here is the Amazon link should you decide to buy the book. Oh, why not! Give yourself a Christmas present. It's not THAT expensive.