by Diana Nelson Jones/Nov25
It has to do with that insecurity of amateur cooks whipping up a Thanksgiving spread and not feeling worthy. It's about making no apologies.
Dear readers, she writes:
I'm in the middle of My Life in France, Julia Child's account of living in Paris during the 1950s. The text is rich with descriptions of that time and place, but I'm also loving Julia's approach to cooking. One page I marked was about her self-imposed rule never to apologize for a dish:
"I don't believe in twisting yourself into knots of excuses and explanations over the food you make. When one's hostess starts in with self-deprecations such as ‘Oh, I don't know how to cook ...' or ‘Poor little me ...' or ‘This may taste awful ...' it is so dreadful to have to reassure her that everything is delicious and fine, whether it is or not. Besides, such admissions only draw attention to one's shortcomings (or self-perceived shortcomings), and make the other person think, ‘Yes, you're right, this really is an awful meal!' ...
"Usually one's cooking is better than one thinks it is. And if the food is truly vile, as my ersatz eggs Florentine surely were, then the cook must simply grit her teeth and bear it with a smile - and learn from her mistakes."
I know this is supposed to be a blog about Pittsburgh's city neighborhoods, and it is that, as well with an interest in the environment, preservation, New Urbanism and now, if I may be so bold, food - as it pertains to "community."
Today in East Liberty, I watched a swarm of volunteers putting boxes and bags together to distribute to clients of the East End Cooperative Ministry - people who get Meals on Wheels and families needing groceries from the food pantry -- and a kitchen staff preparing lunch for the homeless who would show up around noon.
A lot of the food comes from Whole Foods, and while I make no apologies for my "Whole Fools" post a few posts ago, I want to give the store on Centre Avenue in East Liberty credit for donating a vanload of food to the Ministry every week day (as does the Giant Eagle Market District on Centre Avenue). Know that when you shop at these stores, you are helping support the donations to less fortunate people who live in the 15206 zip code.
Even though that food is free, I would not wish to ever need it. A free meal is hard for most people to accept, and though they may be thankful for it, they would be more thankful for conditions that allowed them to find work that pays a living wage. When I looked at all the bags lined up (in the terrible photo above, for which I don't apologize), I thought about how thankful I am not to need one.
I will enter this brief Thanksgiving break in a couple of hours, thankful that I have a turkey that I will most assuredly screw up cooking correctly and resolved not to apologize to anyone about it. I will eat it and say "Yummy!"