Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Alas, Proust

Somehow, I ended up with multiple projects and endeavors due in the September - November timeframe, and reading has taken a back seat. Poor old Proust. I just loved the beginning of Cities of the Plain, but haven't gotten very far. Such a relief from the Guermantes and their endless dinner parties and all the receptions.

Gourmet, alas, has folded. Very sad. My first and best Gazpacho recipe is from Gourmet 1964. Think about that. The founder, Earl McAusland, has a summer place in Nantucket before the big money moved in. The big noisy money. Nantucket was always a great place to dine, but had little in common with Balbec, except of course, there were always yachts and bicycles, and dunes, and artists. Gee, maybe Nantucket does have something in common with Balbec.

We subscribed to Gourmet until last year. When the economy tanked, it was time for us to scale down our travel, dining out and dining in food budgets, and I noticed that I seldom actually cooked any of the Gourmet recipes. We became Bon Appetit, and Cook's Illustrated folks. In Germany last winter, we ate at obscure country inns and bratwurst on the street in Thuringia. None better.

Tonight, for example, I'm making a ratatouille and Italian sausage pie with a cornmeal crust. Homey, frugal, healthy and ,we hope, tasty. With parsley, basil and thyme and even a tomato from the garden. Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary, and we were going to celebrate at Coriander in Sharon and discovered it had been sold and turned into an Indian restaurant. We got to Needham for Indian Food. Masala Art. So we're trekking to Providence to Al Forno where the food is always sublime and your waistline and wallet both take a hit.

The last time we were in Paris our big dining splurge was at the Pompidou Centre restaurant, and a fine meal it was. Would Proust approve? What would he think of all those pipes and escalators and the modern art? Proust was a man of his time and I think he would like it. Can you see his quiet, pleasant little smile? Sort of like a psychiatrist's.

Now Gourmet is gone. Before we downsized and moved, I had a twenty-year collection which I parsed for "keep" recipes. I also saved all the Thanksgiving and Christmas and barbecue issues, which actually had stuff you would cook. Or might. Holiday foods that Francois could produce. Does Proust ever mention holidays? Can't recall. Just the summer vacances. Interesting no? Inquiring minds . . .

I'm sorry I haven't read much of anything lately. Can't even keep up with the newspapers (also folding) and the magazines. Life is not what it once was. But then it never is.




Ann oDyne said...

obviously, when you reduced your magazine subscriptions, many others did also.
Timing is everything of course, and many people will spend the money saved, on seeing Julie and Julia the film about Ms. Childs learning to cook.
Congratulations and BONNE ANNIVERSAIRE

Marie said...

I hope you had a great anniversary. :-) I love the christmas and thanksgiving issues of fancy cooking magazines- like you said, that's all the four-star stuff you really want to cook, especially the desserts. i was sad to hear gourmet folded- just seemed like such an institution. yet another casualty of the online age.

Jason said...

"I just loved the beginning of Cities of the Plain, but haven't gotten very far. Such a relief from the Guermantes and their endless dinner parties and all the receptions."

There is one more big Guermantes party waiting for you, a little further into Cities of the Plain. But at least there's a progression to the parties, as they increase in social prestige: from Madame Villeparisis's afternoon gathering, to the Duchess de Guermantes's dinner party, to the upcoming Princess de Guermantes's formal after-dinner thing coming up.