I'm Ready for My Closeup, Mr. Souffle

Happy New Year to my dedicated readers!

"-Breakfast in bed. When was the last time you had that?

- Does your toddler puking on you in the middle of the night count?"

When I was little I wanted to be a grocery store bagger. As a teen I has aspirations in law. Right before college ended I envisioned a career as a flight attendant, you know, to see the world. I think I'm in my current profession because I love hearing about what other people do. I'm fascinated by the plethora of careers available in today's job market. For me, "If I could be anything," I'd be a) a writer b) a yoga teacher c) a doula. These are actual viable careers for me. I wouldn't make any money, but I could do them and I may actually be good at them, too. Then, there's the "If I could be anything" letter d, the secret passion, food stylist/photographer.

I love food. I'm a big eater. I look forward to planning out the weekly meal schedule and can never say no to an invite out for breakfast for a post-dinner ice cream. But, I can't really cook anything, at least not anything too elaborate. I support the Slow Food movement and have the Moosewood cookbooks but I'm really more of a 30-minute meal maker. And that's 30-minutes in the oven, baking on a cookie sheet, meal maker. I have a kitchen full of Pampered Chef items from my mother-in-law and no idea what their purpose is. I have one little utensil that looks like a mini pie plate with a handle. Any ideas? Or the Rubber Maid knife that I think chops iceberg lettuce. Silly rubber knife, we are a salad-in-a-bag family!

Far from my kitchen are souffles, tarts, fritatta and roast. Yet near and dear to my heart are the images of these mouth watering treats, courtesy of Williams-Sonoma. Every other day a Williams-Sonoma catalog arrives at our house (because my MIL bought and shipped me specialty items from there last Christmas). Andy, knowing I have no use for the catalog's items, asks me if he can recycle (ok, throw in the trash) the catalog but I pull it aside. I covet the magazine and my excitement grows as dinner nears. We all sit down for our made-with-love fish stick and french fries meal, served on pink and orange plastic plates. As Andy frets over Caroline and her pasta, I tuck my feet up under me, squeeze a little ketchup onto my fish sticks and open the first page of the catalog. For the next three to five minutes I am transported to another world. A world full of rich, beautiful food. Gorgeously presented goods on a simple, yet elegant plate.

Unlike the plastic food images of the 1950s and 1960s, the food in the catalog photos is so tantalizingly real. I love the way the floating hand holds the spoon, the chunky, meaty soup bits about to slide off of the side. Or the happy poached eggs- shiny, happy and ready to be devoured, we can only imagine, by sun-bleached Scandinavian children wearing woolly sweaters and wooden clogs. I most recently experienced true food ecstasy when my eyes spied none other than the Beaba Babycook and it's lovingly pureed carrots and squash. The baby with the perfectly white bib looks so happy and content, waiting for his bland veggies to be processed in the French baby-food maker. And only for $149.95. Should I buy it? Should I? Would my puree look as lovely as the very, very orange, soft-serve like carrots presented to me courtesy of the genius Williams-Sonoma stylist and photographer?

My friend Ro used to kid me and say she was going to get me drunk and we'd be silly and make food and take pictures of it with a Polaroid camera. Last year I saw a continuing education class being offered in food styling, but it was on Long Island.

For now, I think I'll stick to my day job. After all, what's life without a dream to hold onto? And, I'll always have my evenings with W.S.


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