The Petite Sophisticate

by Sadie Stein

Posts tagged books

8 notes

A Good Thing

I try, consciously, to count my blessings.  Just as after illness one values the feeling of good health, depression makes one very aware of its absence.  I will sometimes tell myself “I am happy!” to imprint the feeling, and the memory, on my mind, and simply to revel in the normalcy of it all.  

But like everyone, I forget, and I grumble, and I feel sorry for myself, and I get weighed down with stupid things.  My friend Ciara somehow has a positive genius for intuiting these moods: as often as not when I get blue, there will be a note, or a postcard, or a thoughtful small gift to remind me of how fortunate I am in life generally and in good friends like her in particular.  I don’t know if she’s psychic or simply so generous that some of her gestures can’t help but fall on a bad patch, but it’s pretty incredible.  I was feeling drained after a long today today and when I came home, I found something: a copy of Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries, which I’d mentioned only last week was a little steep in dollars for me to consider. I wasn’t hinting - I swear! - but I certainly am excited, and I can’t think of anything  better to curl up with.  As I walked upstairs, I found myself thinking of the opening lines of Keats’s “When I Have Fears” although instead of glean’ing my teeming brain it was all mixed up with some idea of not appreciating what I have. Okay, basically, it has nothing to do with the poem, but it did come into my head, and I did count my blessings, and I do know how lucky I am to have such deeply nourishing people in my life. 

(Above is the book, with my glass of wine and snack.*)

The book is indeed great, I can already tell — his usual graceful, unfussy prose and genuine love to simple food — and you can’t help but feel inspired to keep some kind of journal yourself. (Of course, unlike whatever fabulous green curry he’s throwing together, I’m likely to be eating straight tomato paste, or Cheerios.)  In that spirit, I’ll share what we had, although I worn you, it’s nothing fancy.  I had some bacon to use up, and since our eggs weren’t fresh enough to make for a good frisée salad or carbonara, I whipped up a concoction that I learned from El: shell pasts tossed with crisp bacon, peas, plenty of ricotta, and lots of parmesan.  It’s as good a quick pasta as I know. 

*In case you’re wondering what my “snack” is, it’s the little savory pastries from Black Hound on 2nd Avenue.  Nothing is nicer as a nibble with wine especially if you’re as cheap a drink as I and don’t like to drink on an empty stomach. 

Filed under food books cookbooks nigel slater

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book-aesthete:

 Spectropia; or Surprising Spectral Illusions; showing Ghosts everywhere, and of every colour Brown (J.H., of Brighton). 1865.
First Series, fourth edition, 16 plates, all but three hand-coloured, original cloth-backed printed boards, rubbed, 4to, 1865.
The introduction explains, “the following Illusions are founded on two well-known facts; namely, the persistency of impressions, and the production of complementary colours, on the retina.”

book-aesthete:

Spectropia; or Surprising Spectral Illusions; showing Ghosts everywhere, and of every colour
Brown (J.H., of Brighton). 1865.

First Series, fourth edition, 16 plates, all but three hand-coloured, original cloth-backed printed boards, rubbed, 4to, 1865.

The introduction explains, “the following Illusions are founded on two well-known facts; namely, the persistency of impressions, and the production of complementary colours, on the retina.”

Filed under books occult vintage ghosts

38 notes

It is after lunch and I shall now describe the house. For lunch, I may say, I ate and greatly enjoyed the following: anchovy paste on hot buttered toast, then baked beans and kidney beans with chopped celery, tomatoes, lemon juice and olive oil. (Really good olive oil is essential, the kind with a taste, I have brought a supply from London.) Green peppers would have been a happy addition only the village shop (about two miles pleasant walk) could not provide them. (No one delivers to far-off Shruff End, so I fetch everything, including milk, from the village.) Then bananas and cream with white sugar. (Bananas should be cut, never mashed, and the cream should be thin.) The hard water-biscuits with New Zealand butter and Wensleydale cheese. Of course I never touch foreign cheeses. Our cheeses are the best in the world. With this feast I drank most of a bottle of Muscadet out of my modest "cellar." I ate and drank slowly as one should (cook fast, eat slowly) and without distractions such as (thank heavens) conversation or reading. Indeed eating is so pleasant one should even try to suppress thought. Of course reading and thinking are important but, my God, food is important too. How fortunate we are to be food consuming animals. Every meal should be a treat and one ought to bless every day which brings with it a good digestion and the precious gift of hunger.
Iris Murdoch, The Sea, The Sea

Filed under food quotes books iris murdoch the sea the sea