“The repast was luxurious and elegant. There was no profusion of unmeaning dishes; each was a bonne bouche – an undeniable delicacy.” A wonderful description of a meal written by essayist, Charles Reade, around 1870, that so well describes my ambitions in the kitchen. I also thank Mr. Reade for inspiring the name of my website. May all of our dishes be undeniable delicacies.
In a University of Portland magazine article, James Beard Award winner, Michael Pollan, describes the preparation of a dish as an “arc of transformation” whereby “Every dish contains not just culinary ingredients but also the ingredients of narrative: a beginning, a middle, and an end.” In my opinion that is a most enjoyable transformation, one that keeps me constantly motivated to see what new things there are to do in the kitchen.
I’m not sure how Mrs. Sperry, my second grade teacher, kept 20 second graders focused long enough to prepare a batch of sugar cookies in the school’s kitchen, but from the moment I tasted those warm, buttery biscuits I was hooked on cooking. My parents and grandparents, accomplished cooks all, encouraged me to watch and help out in the kitchen, but it was that school project that made me realize that I myself could take raw materials and transform them into something wondrous. Something with flavor, texture, aroma and visual appeal that was more than the sum of its parts. I fell in love with the ritual of planning, preparing and sharing food back then, and that love still inspires me today.
My name is James. I am, I like to think, a good cook. I have learned through trial and error about various food preparation techniques, discovered the tools that work for me, and understand what dishes complement one another. I believe that I have viewed all of Julia Child’s television shows, I’ve cooked alongside some inspiring amateur chefs, and I’ve taken cooking lessons with professional chefs. I own a substantial library of cookbooks, I subscribe to several cooking magazines as well as browse countless Internet websites.
My intent for this website is to talk about planning and preparing festive meals and to keep an archive of those special occasions. Many meals, especially holiday meals, are full of fond and comforting memories and traditions. I want to keep a record of those times. I also wish to discuss tools, techniques, and dishes I’ve discovered that merit passing on. If my readers wish to use some of my experiences and suggestions, all the better.