Closer to the Chef’s Knife

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Botanical illustration of the milkweed cycle by Betsy Rogers-Knox

Delicious! Was one of the worst works of fiction that I have ever finished. But wait, please do not stop reading this entry in fear of experiencing the stomach-wrenching anxiety associated with having to read another few hundred forgettable words of vitriol and moaning on the internet. This was merely the worst book I have ever “finished”. In truth, I’ve read way worse, but I firmly put those books down after reading a few stale pages.

What saved me from giving up on this book was when I made the decision to engage in a personal challenge of trying to find anything that aligned with my inner book. Thankfully, I was able to do that. Also, I can’t forget to mention that at least one flash of pleasure was felt when I remembered that I could read it rather absentmindedly and still have a pretty good sense of the plot.

The war correspondences between the tactful and optimistic Lulu and the fictional James Beard provided a narrative that resonated with me. The cunning resourcefulness employed by Lulu to combat the limitations of the US food rationing program of WWII reminded me of my grandparent’s stories of sacrifice and foraging. From my Grandmother plucking the dandelion roots of rural Bavarian soil for use in a make-do form of coffee to my Grandfather reminiscing over the sweetest taste to have swelled his palette in all of the War years- the translucent pink fibers that remained on the rind of a discarded watermelon- these are some of the most cherished stories I have ever heard and have helped to shape my personal narrative. 

Over the course of reading this novel, some personal values that I try to embody surfaced in the form of a timely reminder. These personal values were indirectly channeled through  David Harbor’s inspiring acceptance speech at the SAG Awards which served as a reminder to always remain open and aware of potentially uplifting moral values and ideas that are sometimes buried beneath the surface of what we are consuming at hand (conversation, fiction, art, media). That speech also reinforced that we still have the freedom to choose what entertains and inspires us, no matter how gentle the read or how homely the half hour sitcom may be.  This is a freedom that I am grateful to indulge in on any aimless summer evening when I just want to cast time and space aside and disappear in the pastiche of a Hard Case Crime novel

~g


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