We’re all familiar with the pathetic fallacy, right? It’s a dark and stormy night corresponding to our hero’s despair. Cotton candy clouds cartwheel across the sky as the lovers’ hearts soar and tumble.
Well then, autumn has begun to tinge the trees red and gold. Squirrels are madly hoarding. And so am I. It comes down to fear of scarcity. What if the snow comes and I’m trapped in my den with nothing to read or no new recipes to try? So, after months of biblio-abstinence I have bought boxes and boxes of books. No lie, 13 in one order of several. (Shout out to my new best friends at Book Outlet.ca.)
Every fall I used to make Rose Levy Bernabaum’s flame tart for someone who isn’t around anymore. Since that loss, I’d see the little Italian prune plums in the market and my eyes would mist over like the faint haze on the fruit, (the pathetic fallacy’s a bitch, man). I’d been starching my upper lip for their reappearance when I read this, in the introduction to my new copy of David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert, “Bake something. You’ll feel better!”
Making good pastry has not come naturally to me. It has taken a lot of patience and practice. I got a very special thrill rolling out the pate sucrée, knowing it was going to work just fine. Then, having baked the shell for a few minutes you gently press the fruit into it in concentric circles, bake, cool and glaze. It looks fab, no? But what does one person do with a tart for six?
I cut it in quarters and walked three of them to new friends and neighbours and thoroughly enjoyed my quarter with dollops of creme fraiche. Healing and pastry, practice and patience.
Paris in two times
As mentioned, I recently acquired David Lebovtiz’s Ready for Dessert. His chocolate chip cookies are my new favourite. I am a long time fan of Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop. I haven’t cooked anything yet from his My Paris Kitchen, (also in my book hoard), but his text makes Paris present. Mmmmemories of stuffing myself with gratin in a narrow wine bar on the Quai Voltaire and sopping up the creamy sauce with brown bread. I couldn’t eat again for 12 hours.
Not since I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula as a teen has a book frightened me as much as Hilary Mantel’s A Place of Greater Safety. I couldn’t put down her darkly funny Beyond Black. I loved it so much I gave it to several people who told me they found the darkness so oppressive they couldn’t finish it. Whereas it is her evocation of the mob in revolutionary France that is so powerful I had to pause my reading intermittently for a calming dose of a deluding mystery where justice is done before I could proceed. Mantel’s handling of point of view is nothing short of genius. The sense of time and place are visceral. Looking up from 18th century Paris on the page to see the same mobs in modern dress on the news, well, I wish that were a fallacy.