I’ve been cooking a lot this week. Which is funny, because the week before someone asked me if I like to cook, and I said, “I do, but I don’t really have time for it much these days.” It’s not so much that I made time, but the quantity of fresh foods in the fridge that were going to go off sort of demanded it.
So, since we were up to our ears in tomatoes, I made a great big batch of sauce (one tub in the freezer, one in the fridge—just needs to be whirled in the food processor with some tomato paste and away we go), and then a batch of gazpacho (I was tempted to follow Almodovar’s recipe, but I don’t have any Valium in the house). There’s also a tomato and cucumber salad that I made last week (dousing anything in loads of olive oil and balsamic vinegar will help it keep pretty well for several days—that’s my hint from Heloise for you). I also have more pesto than any household can possibly consume in a month. (Into the freezer it goes.) Lastly, for our friend Jane’s party this evening, there’s a chocolate mousse, made according to Julia Child’s recipe, chilling in the fridge.
None of this has anything to do with writing, really. Cooking, like running, is one of those things I used to do when I was stuck on something I was writing and needed to step away. There are a few things I make reliably well—black bean soup, lasagna, omelets, caramelized tofu and brussels sprouts—that I could let my hands go through the steps while my mind wandered.
At the moment, things are chugging along pretty well, though. I’m working on a summary for chapter nine of book #2 (which has no relation to book #1), and I’ve got summaries of chapters six through eight already done. I’ve been writing longhand a lot lately, or on my old manual typewriter. I find it helps to get away from the computer and the inevitable source of noise it becomes (for me, at least). Sometimes stepping away from the writing altogether and letting yourself think about other things is the best path back to the work. And if you do that in the kitchen, you’ll wind up with something for dinner to boot.
“When in doubt, cook” ended up being something of a mantra for Joel, the narrator in Detours, so maybe this does have something to do with writing after all.