Back to the Book

No topic of the day as of yet, which is fine with me, since I have been meaning to get back to my original purpose for my blog for a few days now anyhow.

The original concept for me here, was to draft some notes on the mythical Pneumatic Diner Cookbook. I wanted to go over the equipment that would be needed, and some basic concepts for cooking in general, & for the specific recipes found in the book. I was often distracted from the project, but then along came Post-A-Day, which I love – so that was the direction my writing has taken instead.

At least the P-A-D project kept me writing at all, especially with how busy I was at work. And in retrospect, it is just as good that I was doing all that work as well, since the Crescent Cafe was an excellent opportunity for growth in both my cooking, and my kitchen knowledge in general.

But I have just now reached something of a personal turning point, I got my Alaska driver’s license today, and registered to vote, which completes my to-do list for establishing Alaskan residency and just getting oriented in general. After the DMV, we went out for Chinese food, and my fortune cookie said;

It’s time to gather info for the project you’ve delayed.

Which struck me as just about as prophetic as a fortune cookie can be! (Sam’s said his hard work is about to pay off – which would be a regular miracle…) Since moving to Juneau, just over a month ago, I have managed to unpack my belongings, tidy up the house, and get all of my paperwork in order. The kitchen has had a first draft of cleaning, so at least now I can see what I am dealing with – and knowing if half the battle! & by that rationale, I have been giving a good deal of thought to the overall premise of the book lately. A lot has changed in my life since the Diner days, and I want the book to reflect my current prerogative on food and such.

So I have been thinking about how my relationship with food has changed and evolved (not always for the better, mind you, there have been pit-falls, indeed). My attitude towards food has undergone many revisions, and I now sit in a place of general equanimity. Which kind of freaks me out… I have always been quite passionate about food, a metaphorical relationship would be one where each of the partners just might snap, and start throwing the dinnerware at the others head at any moment.

I can’t say that I miss such a tumultuous element in my life – things are calmer now, safer. & that’s a good thing. But without that outlet, I do feel somewhat restrained… I do not have that comforting sense of place that I always felt in the kitchens of my youth, and I do not feel crazy enough to get creative with the knives and burners.

& really how creative do I need to be at this point? Obviously the writing will take a creative effort, as well as the basic act of food preparation. But in terms of the recipes, the intent there has always been to remain faithful to their original flavor and character. Coming up with something new and fantastic is not my concern at the moment.

This is really a cornerstone of professional kitchen-theory. Most kitchens are not looking to hire a cook who will be wild be wild and spicy with intimidating ingredients. They want you to cook this burger, so it tastes just like all the other burgers they have ever made, because that’s what folks come back for, so don’t you fuckin’ surprise them! OK?

In my case, I knew that the Pneumatic’s palate was distinct and long-appreciated. I saw that there was not only great food there, but a great story as well. Especially after playing the part I had been assigned, & you are supposed to “write what you know”, right? But the story is much bigger than I am, and I do want to try & be true to the whole plot and cast of characters, at least the best I can.

This is where I start getting distracted and entangled, in memories and emotions… that’s the other trouble with food, it always gets personal! So I guess what I need first is an outline. There are the recipes, and then there is the text. The text involves the story, and also an attempt to sketch what the whole concept of healthy food is right now. It’s such a fluctuating thing, where last year it was all about Raw Food, but now it’s Gluten Free (one of the largest growing factions on the food market$ today). And then there is meat; happy meat, sad meat, no meat at all, grass-fed, free-range, what the hell does any of it mean any more?

How about organic? Is that even relevant any longer – or is it like talking about Madonna? Of course we still love her, but it’s just not the revelation it used to be, right?

So then, an outline it is, because as soon as I think about testing and re-sizing all of those recipes (there are well over a hundred of them, and that’s before you even get into the mixing and matching) I kind of freeze up. I’m not suffering from writer’s block, as much as cooker’s block. So we will start with a list – genius.

Thanks for the help, WP!


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