After I read the review of DIRT in the Wall Street Journal, I decided I had to read it. The library didn’t have a copy, so I ordered a copy. I had it sent to one of my daughters as a present, telling her she might enjoy it. She also was ordered to share it with her other sister when she finished. After she received the copy, she laughed and told me she “got through it. I read it all the way through.” She passed it along to her other sister, whose comment was “I tried, but finally gave up.” They gave the book back to me. So, there it was, DIRT, waiting for me finally to read.
I found it enjoyable, but quickly realized it is not a book for everyone. It’s difficult. It’s full of French names, dishes, and recipes. The idea of the title, I decided, is that the “dirt” from a certain locale in France is the reason for the wonderful flour that makes French bread so memorable. Given this experience in reading and remembering, I sought out another book about the French.
One hint the author of FRENCH TOAST wrote is that everyone should memorize the recipe for good Vinaigrette. I decided one afternoon that my husband, now retired, needed something to do. I gave him the recipe and asked him to make the Vinaigrette. I also told him the ”customary” meal there was in five courses: the hors d’oeuvre’, the salad, the main entre, the cheese plate, and the dessert. I informed him as well that he would be lucky if his meal would consist of only ONE or maybe TWO of those five and his “Vinaigrette” would be the star of the salad. The book did not tell me this, but I read somewhere, that if a person makes a salad consisting of five items, it will be successful. Okay, so I looked in the vegetable in. I have cabbage, lettuce, carrots, sweet peppers, and must find something else. Whatever I find will be served with his Vinaigrette.
This blog isn’t about writing or the craft of writing, but perhaps it will remind the reader that books teach us about people, places, and customs, and if a person can’t travel to experience them, a book can do wonders. A basic vinaigrette recipe? 1 tsp. of mustard, 1 tbsp. vinegar, 3 tbsp. oil, salt, pepper, and optional: tarragon. Ah, but, there are questions? Should it be “prepared” mustard or “ground” mustard? Should the oil be lighter than what I used? Should the vinegar be red wine or apple cider? How much salt? How much pepper? This little recipe is enough for only two salads. It can be doubled and tripled. Oh well, there are cookbooks I can check to get me on the right tract, and I have a shelf of cookbooks. The internet also can give me answers. “Happy cooking, “as Jacques Pépin always said at the end of his show.