For my junior high school Home Economics teacher, Mrs. Lesca Black, who taught me how to press every seam once you’d sewed it, and for Dr. Sandra DeJong, who said she thought I might be a feminist, after all.
It all began, I suppose, with the hardbound set of Time-Life Foods of the World cookbooks my mother ordered by subscription, lined up on a kitchen shelf between utilitarian metal bookends.
There was one hardbound volume for each European region, and multiple volumes for the regional cuisines of America, each covered in darkly-lit photographs reminiscent of still-life paintings. The volume for France had a picture of a cheese soufflé; the book for Austria (Austria?) had a gingerbread house frosted with royal icing and studded with candies—a Middle American fantasy of an Alpine Christmas.
“Let’s make that!” I always said to the nearby humoring adults, who were willing to let me make a mess in the kitchen but were not otherwise interested in “projects.” [Read more...]