Kitchen Note: Rage, Despair, and Baking

August 20, 2017

Recent events have left me careering between rage and despair. Occasionally there’s a comparatively calm moment of depression, a lull in the mental action, before some tidbit of horrible news sends me bouncing off the walls again.

Writing is nearly impossible. How do you sit down and write: “Today I bought lovely heirloom tomatoes at the farmer’s market,” while a bunch of subhumanoids are marching in Charlottesville?

Some people are able to do this. More power to them. They will outlive me.

Me, I haven’t figured how to balance what’s happening to the United States with writing about food. I sit down the computer and twenty-five years of writing desert me. Words leave the building.


This doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking. If anything, I’ve been on a kitchen bender, for cooking is the only activity I remain able to focus on. Something about measuring, stirring, mixing, and paying close attention to a hot stove stills the horrible nattering in my head.

“Cooking” also encompasses baking. Had you told me even two years ago that Donald Trump would be in the White House, I would have laughed at you. Had you told me I’d become an ace baker, I’d have laughed even harder.

Had you told me I’d become an ace baker because Donald Trump was in office, I would have thought you insane.

And now the joke is on me.

A selection from the kitchen bender:

Diana Henry’s flourless chocolate cake.

Chinese Dumplings. I forgot to write down what they’re stuffed with. I’m guessing ground pork. My pleating technique has improved from the ridiculous to merely pathetic. Dipping sauce is Chinkiang vinegar mixed with chile sauce.

Ruth Reichl’s Perfect Pound Cake, from My Kitchen Year.

Kung Pao, or Gung Bao Chicken.

Potato Pancakes, or Maqqouda, from Paula Wolfert’s The Food Of Morocco.

It is notable that none of these dishes originated in America.

Thank you for reading. It means more than I can say.