Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I had the beginnings of an article on a 7-11 sandwich ready, but when the latest issue of Cucina Italiana arrived in the mail box this morning I knew immediately that was going to change. To begin with it provided the menu for this evening’s dinner, but it also reminded me of my great frustration when it comes to food and Christmas Eve. A beautifully illustrated series of pages suggesting a seven-course menu, the Feast of the Seven Fishes, was the highlight of the magazine. A series of courses that I would ordinarily drool over – until, that is reality kicks in.

Sadly, Christmas Eve for me is not a time to relax and enjoy food, no matter how excellent that food is. Returning home after the early children’s pageant I am mentally, and perhaps physically, preparing for the late Choral Eucharist. To put it crudely (and I’m fairly sure that Hippolytus, Cranmer or Dix never used this vernacular) it’s a “Big One.” A very traditional liturgy that satisfies the Christmas desires of a hundred and fifty people. Candles, carols, choir and communion. That’s a great combination in worship, and every year I hope and pray that the congregants, many of whom are satiated with much food and wine, take away something more than a nice piece of tradition. I trust that they do – and that the Lord works through the biblical stories and these marvelous church events! But anticipating this service does my anticipatory stomach no good at all!

Ah yes! Tonight’s rustic Italian menu. Linguine tossed with leek puree and pan-sautéed pancetta and braised asparagus and cherry tomatoes. A new recipe – one to be repeated.

On a different subject. I am slowly reading through a book dedicated to the most northern tip of Cape Cod, an area dear to my heart. In her work The Salt House, Cynthia Huntington describes the history of her relationship with a beach cottage, and one summer’s stay near Provincetown. Her writing, particularly with regard to describing the place and its fauna and flora, is unequalled in quality. Poetically detailed is a phrase that springs to mind. Yet I have a growing, nagging problem with this author. She may be at one with her adopted natural environment, but she shows no sign of relating to or identifying with the people who live in these communities all year, and who have done so for innumerable generations. In fact in places Ms. Huntington is quietly disparaging about the local market and economic needs. Her neighbors (and lover) are fellow-writers and tree sculptors, potters and painters, not store-keepers, farmers, scallop gatherers and tradesmen. She talks of fishermen and park rangers as if they were “little people” doing their job while she continues to write rhapsodically about the water’s edge. How limited. How dull. I see this version of summer visitor on the East End of Long Island. What a shame to know that the Outer Cape contains the same.

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