It’s been awhile since I wrote here. Now the end of July is upon us, and where did July go? I find myself asking, and others too echo the question. Well it went in an apparently seamless succession of gorgeous days and heat with enough rain for the garden and early ripenings of fruits and vegetables. In other words it disappeared into a summer Eden. How lovely!
I was going to write earlier in the week about a magical full-moon nighttime I had up in Grey County last weekend, watching thin veilings of clouds swirl past the bright moon as I sat on the steps of friends’ wooden house, alone and peaceful, and grateful for it all. But somehow in the rush of getting myself to Montreal and tidying up Burma recipes and whatever other excuses I have, the blogpost didn’t happen.
Montreal? you say. Again? Yes, and with pleasure. I am always happy to see friends there, but this trip was especially to connect with Nancy Jenkins (of Maine and Tuscany) and her daughter Sara, chef-owner of the amazing Porchetta in NYC and about to open another restaurant, equally true Italian, on Seventh St East, sometime in September. I hadn’t seen them for too many years. They were planning to spend four days in Montreal, in “Europe North” as Sara now calls Canada, and I grabbed at the chance to have time with them.
Yes, we talked, and yes we ate, and yes, most of all, we had fun, extra sweet because of the perfect grandchild, as Nancy calls Sara’s son. There was the obligatory-for-new-visitors meal at Au Pied de Cochon (with the obligatory poutine with foie gras, despite the summer heat), and the ditto stop for smoked meat sandwiches at Schwartz’s. (We were there at 10.30 in the morning, a perfect calm time, no crowds, no rush.)
That meal of medium smoked meat sandwich with pickle tided me over until evening, when we had a blow-out Italian feast courtesy Michele Forgione and his team. We ate regional Italian dishes, amazing home-made charcuterie of all kinds,, home-made pastas, a slow-roasted perfect Quebec pig, loaded with delish crackling... You get the drift. Oh and there were nicely chosen Italian wines too, of course. Lesley Chesterman of the Montreal Gazette, a fun dining companion and fine writer, was there and taking notes; do go find her online at http://www.lesleychesterman.com/ to get details; I imagine she’ll tweet them or blog them sometime soon... not sure.
All I can say is that if Michele’s planned restaurant delivers this kind of quality and light touch, it will be packed with happy diners. He’s hoping to open in the next year.
On another food subject, I just recently stumbled into Rachel Lauden’s blog... I am in touch with her on Facebook, but had failed to check out her blog. It’s very interesting, and challenging, since she is a food historian who is a rigorous thinker too, so rather than making sweeping generalisations or indulging in romanticising the past, she’s clear-eyed and lets her curiosity, rather than wishful thinking, lead her. Have a look; I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. (I was snagged by her musings on thin rice doughs, aka ouarka/popiah etc, here
And off food as a focus.... In the last couple of months I have found myself getting too intense from time to time about decision-making and daily life. Today over coffee I talked about it with a friend, who's had a similar struggle with intensity and treating all of life as momentous these last months.
What is this all about? Well perhaps it’s first about an ongoing awareness of the frailties of life, but somehow unfiltered, so that the head gets tied in a knot, fussing about and worrying about not wasting time and opportunity. But this is such a sterile place to be. It takes the brain on round-and-round circles fruitlessly. A mind-clenched stress about details means that we are not free to imagine and enjoy, to have fresh thoughts and appreciate daily pleasures. If your eye is always on a potential future benefit or catastrophe, then it’s not attuned to the now, right?
Well, said another friend, how to get out of this stressful and paralysing feeling that every moment and every decision is momentous? Is it a matter of developing a new regimen? Or what?
My answer so far, and it seems to be working, is that now that I recognise the issue, it’s up to me to let go, that is, whenever I get clenched about a decision or worrying about tomorrow, I remind myself to step back, breathe deeply, smell the flowers, and say, so what? If things go wrong, so what? I can deal with the fall-out of whatever problems arise, and once again, so what?
I’m enjoying this growing sense of freedom. I’m feeling my full wingspan. It’s a joy and is powerful too. Like anyone, I sure can backslide. But I have to say, the lightness of heart I feel each day is growing, and so is the gratitude I feel, to have health and loving friends and family, and each new day to look forward to.