The Art Of Cooking

I opened a 1941 copy of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book by Fannie Merritt Farmer.  The fly leaf had a hand-written note that said “From Dad–August 19th 1942”.  My mother’s birthday was Aug 19th so I assume it was a gift to her from her dad, my grandfather.

As I leafed through it, a piece of paper fell out in my mother’s handwriting. It struck me because it expressed how I feel about cooking and also because I realized that not only I, but my mother, her mother and my father’s mother all were part of the Grand Order of Homemakers.  It came from a book called “No More Than Human” by Maura Laverty.  Here it is:

The art of cooking is such a kindly, friendly, unselfish art and every little step in the preparation of even the plainest dish is an opportunity for self-expression.

Sharing a meal with dear friends

That sprinkling of chopped parsley beaten into the mashed potatoes is so much more than the final touch demanded by the cookery books.  It is the satisfaction of your natural craving for all lovely green and white things, love the tips of grass spears piercing the snow on a morning in January.  It is an expression of your wish to share things with the people you are feeding.  Glaze the top of an apple tart and you are not merely adding sweetness and a deeper color to the crust.  You are voicing your love for all that is burnished and golden and gladdening in nature and in people and in art.  

But it is satisfaction in twenty other different ways as well.  There is a grand, warm companionable feeling to be got out of the thought that every time you baste a roast or beat an egg or do any other little, ordinary kitchen job, you are making yourself one with the Grand Order of Homemakers:  past, present and to come.

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