I’ve been on a “Food Writing” reading kick lately, and I don’t really know how to explain how much I love this genre. I suppose it’s partly because I love to cook and bake, but also a large part of it is just how fun most of the books I’ve read from this genre are. It’s been fun living and eating vicariously through Julia Child, Ruth Reichl, Gael Greene, and now Laurie Colwin.
When Emma and I were shopping at Three Lives and Company Bookstore, I spotted a book displayed on a table that looked very fun. It was Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen, by Laurie Colwin. I had never heard of it before, but after flipping through it, I knew I had to get it. It’s a book of essays about making food at home, full of descriptions of cooking and baking, charming illustrations, and recipes.
This is one of the coziest books I’ve ever read. It was delightful. You don’t have to be an experienced cook yourself to enjoy her essays. She writes about the pleasures of eating and cooking and how certain foods are tied to your memories and past in interesting ways. One of my favorite parts of the book is a description of one of her memories involving soup:
Soup has come to symbolize the ultimate in comfort and safety. Many years ago, when I was about fifteen, I saw someone served a cup of soup, and this vision, which had all the sentimental charm of a painting by Sir Edwin Landseer, is indelibly imprinted on my mind.
It was a cold, rainy autumn night and some grubby teenagers had gathered at a friend’s rather splendid house. We heard the crunch of a car on gravel. A taxi pulled up and into the wet night stepped the friend’s older sister, who was coming home from college for the weekend. She was probably nineteen but she looked like the picture of sophistication. She wore brown pumps, a green tweed suit, pearl earrings and her hair was pulled back in a French twist.
She took off her wet coat, sat down in front of the fire and her mother brought her a large, ornamental bone china cup of soup. She warmed her hands on the cup and then she set it on its saucer, balanced it on her lap and ate the soup with a bouillon spoon. The dog, a weimaraner, lay dozing at her feet. Outside the rain clattered. Inside that pretty living room was all safe.
Of course you need not have a weimaraner or a fire or anyone coming home from college. To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup.
Is that not one of the coziest descriptions ever? The entire book is a treat.
Unfortunately, Laurie Colwin died in 1992 at the age of 48. Two books were published posthumously, including a sequel to this collection, called More Home Cooking. I’m looking forward to reading it, and am very excited because it just came in for me at the Hoboken Library and I’m going to go pick it up today.
She also wrote five novels and a few collections of short stories, that I’d also like to check out someday.
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