I was in Eataly downtown a few weeks ago. I hadn’t gone there to shop, really, but it was a good spot to wait for a friend I was meeting later. The problem was, I hadn’t brought a book and had more than an hour to wait.
I decided to browse the few books that were displayed for sale. Most weren’t “my kind of book” – too much focus on cooking and recipes, not enough on culture and ideas. Then a gentle-looking ivory and gold book caught my eye. I picked it up and it felt good in my hand. It was by Massimo Bottura, so it had to be good. It was also an autographed copy. Pulling out a few different copies, I looked at the signatures. Most were signed with a simple autograph, but the one I’d pulled from the bottom of the pile was different. “Cooking is an act of love” was scrawled across the grass-green page.
“Cooking is an act of love.” This is a strong statement. Many have said it, some were good cooks, some maybe were great cooks . . . and no doubt some were terrible cooks just doing what they believed to be their best. I remember being in the kitchen of a young mother whose son was a friend of my son. She’d made dinner for us, and she served it with no shame or apology. It was a casserole made from cheap store-bought white bread with the white meat from a can of chicken, all sauced and baked with cream of celery soup. I ate it, pretending that it didn’t seem odd or unusual to me at all – though it seemed extremely odd and unusual. It wasn’t very good, but behind her act of cooking and serving, there undoubtedly was love.
Then there are the meals made from expensive ingredients that at times are completely inedible, indigestible, because of the feel behind them. Almost everyone can remember one of these meals. Sometimes they even happen on important holidays spent with family.
“Bread is Gold” is about cooking with love. It’s about a few other things too. I’m going to take a look at this book, and am going to cook from it as well. Till dinnertime,