Tuesday, September 3, 2013


The school children and their teachers are back in the classroom and the weather is giving them a little help: it’s grey and cool here in Toronto today. Do you remember that little pit of anxious anticipation when you were a kid? Do you remember wondering what you were going to wear on that first day? On the second question, I remember the details of only one year: what I wore to the first day of grade six, a favourite cotton dress of fresh green and white. Hard to understand why some memories stick…

This big turning point in the year is always so freighted with anticipations of all kinds and regrets about the end of summer’s long days and ease. Last night – the eve of the change - as I have in the past, I had friends over for supper. The youngest is headed into grade two, and was a little anxious, but fundamentally happy and fine. The eldest was headed to school today as a teacher. Several more start university responsibilities in a week or two. And the rest of us just reverberated, mostly privately, with memories and echoes of Labour Days past.

All this was against a backdrop, or perhaps I should say foreground, of delectables: slices of charcoal grilled pork; small grilled Pakistani-style sliders; mizuna salad, oh so fresh; sticky rice, a mix of black and white that was chewy and satisfying (I just had the rice leftovers for breakfast); a chopped mix of grilled tomatillos, eggplant, and onions that was terrific, an improvisation; sauteed shiitakes; sliced heirloom tomato; parboiled yellow beans in vinaigrette, unchopped so we could eat them one by one in our fingers; boiled potatoes cut into large wedges and wok-fried with a little sliced fennel in turmeric-tinted olive oil. There was a pause while my prebaked pate sucree crust was topped with chopped peaches (the last of summer probably), wild blueberries, a little sugar, and a small amount of yogurt-egg mixture scented with nutmeg and dried ginger and then baked at 375 to a custard-tart loveliness.

And then there it was, a farewell taste of summer fruit to send us on our way into the school year, the travel year, the work year…

Some new things to announce: The Burma book is now available as an E Book, and so are the three regional Asian cookbooks that I wrote with Jeffrey Alford. There’s a deal on in September for each of the three that I’ve been asked to tell you about. Here’s the link: ecookbook-club

My pre-approval for my visa to Iran has come through. I’m hoping to go look and eat and taste and photograph food and markets and people etc in the month of October. It is so exciting, and yes of course also a little anxiety-making, given the tensions in the region. I can’t wait. But if I get to go I won’t be posting anything for the time I am there. I’ll leave a laptop in Istanbul, where I’ll have some days at either end. And meantime I’m trying to figure out my packing needs etc. All advice welcome, especially anyone who has been recently and at this time of year. I know about the need for a manteau and headscarf, of course…

And before that there’s the Kneading Conference West ( kneadingconferencewest) from September 12 to 14, in the Skagit Valley in northern Washington State; the Stratford Food Fair called Savour Stratford on September 21 and 22, where I’ll be doing various talkings and demos etc (culinaryfestival) ; and on this coming weekend the Longhouse Food revival in Renselaarville NY (SW of Albany 35 miles or so (longhouse).

It really does feel like the end of summer ease and flexibility and the start of a new work year!

No comments: