"One should not be able to say, "Oh, yes, Monday, bread pudding"--anywhere. Meals should be a surprise, and should show imagination." ~~ Edith Schaeffer, "Food" (1971)
Or maybe not, after reading this chapter of Hidden Art. Chapter 8 is not so much about being a good cook, as it is about expressing creativity, gratitude, and caring through food.
"It is not necessary to have a large food budget to make meals interesting. In fact it is often the other way around. The need to "stretch the money often gives birth to ideas in cooking and serving." ~~ "Food"Edith talks a lot in this chapter about appreciating colours, textures, tastes. And how beautifully you arrange whatever it is on the plates; food as still life, if you like. Except...I hardly ever put food on plates for other people. How would I know how much they want to eat, or who's in the mood for carrot sticks but not pickles or the other way around? Even at holiday meals, we serve "family style", and on quick dinner nights, we're more likely to let each person serve themselves from the stove. (Our main eating place is in the kitchen.) Food styling is just not our thing. Walnut sandwiches are definitely not our thing. And as far as putting raisin eyes or something on a pancake or a piece of bread--then at least two of my kids probably wouldn't eat it, because, like Alice, it's not polite to eat food you've been introduced to. (Strawberry mice, for some reason, were acceptable--see photo above.)
"Food should be served with real care as to the colour and texture on the plates, as well as with imaginative taste. This is where artistic talent and aesthetic expression and fulfilment come in." ~~ "Food"flowers on the table are not our thing, neither is getting "artistic" with food, though we do like to cook here (all of us, not just Mama Squirrel); like to shop together, like to eat. We like fresh garden lettuce, good sausage, the smell of muffins baking. I do get a "there, I used it up" satisfaction from combining leftovers; but I wouldn't say that means artistic fulfillment. I'm not into food photography, I'm not a chef; I don't dream meals. Although if you read this chapter carefully, it's not only about the aesthetics of food, even for Edith. Parallelling earlier chapters, she picks up the idea, several times, of using what you have creatively--stretching a small meal to feed more people; or picking up what's available in a small store, and still finding surprises.
None of us are Edith clones. I'm not Cindy, or Jeanne, or the Prudent Homemaker. I have my own limits, my own interests, my own goals, and so do you. But that doesn't mean we can't stretch a little, find our own ways to explore and enjoy God's gift of food.
Let it not lie uncared for--unwanted
So often bread is taken for granted
There is so much beauty in bread
Beauty of sun and soil, beauty of honest toil
Winds and rain have caressed it,
Christ often blessed it
Be gentle when you touch bread.