Life Is Meals: A Food Lover's Book of Days
By James and Kay Salter
With Illustrations by Fabrice Moireau
In 1976, James and Kay Salter moved into their house in Aspen, Colorado. They have cooked in the same kitchen all these years, learning and testing recipes. They kept notes of their culinary endeavours in an old brown notebook, a record of recipes, and also to keep track of what they served people so as not to give them the same thing too often. Over the years the Salters began keeping more detailed notes in the old brown notebook — the dinner book, they called it. As they filled one dinner book, they started on another, and soon there were many of these dinner books, each a record of what was served, seating arrangements, memorable conversations at dinner, stories, notes — their archive of their dining experience.
Life Is Meals is their a compilation of selected entries from the dinner books, along with little things of interest, gossip from history, some opinions, odd little facts — all arranged as a Book of Days to appeal to readers for whom food is more than a mere necessity.
I'm reading the book slowly, several entries every time. Each time I find something interesting — at least, interesting to me, I will post it here.
Next to breathing itself, I can't think of any activity more crucial to life than eating. Food sustains us and nourishes us. And a person who appreciates food also appreciates life.
Meanwhile, because I am something of a coffee-addict, here is an excerpt for the 4 January entry:
They have in Turkey a drink called Coffee...as Black as Soot,
and of a Strong Scent..which they take, beaten into Powder, in Water,
as Hot as they can Drink it; and they take it, and sit at it in their
Coffee Houses, which are like our Taverns.
— FRANCIS BACON
Some forty years after Bacon's death, coffee made its way from Turkey to France with the sultan's ambassador to the court of Louis XIV, where Mme de Sevigne predicted, with something less than her usual acuity. "There are two things the French will never swallow—Racine's poetry, and coffee." She lived long enough to find that she was wrong about both.