Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Love in a Non-Descript Brown Cardboard Box

Thanks to the dominance of email, texting, Facebook, instant messaging (do people use that anymore?), Twitter, and maybe even smoke signals, my mailbox (and yours too, probably) is usually filled only with junk mail and bills (in that order). It's not often that I receive an actual card or letter or package that I didn't initiate. In fact, I think my birthday and Christmas are about the only times I receive fun mail that I didn't specifically request (e.g., purchase from Amazon).

So imagine my surprise when my doorbell rang today around noon and there was my mailman saying he had a package for me. Since my birthday was almost a month ago, I couldn't figure out what surprise might be in his hands.

I retrieved the brown cardboard box and noted the return address was Amazon. But I hadn't ordered anything from Amazon . . . I thought. I opened the very heavy package to discover How to Cook Everything, Completely Revised Tenth Edition: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman, which left me even more confused. My mind quickly raced back to my window shopping spree last night on Amazon when I was looking at cookbooks. Specifically, I was looking at Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking for an upcoming blog post. I also perused a few other cookbooks, but didn't remember buying anything. Or did I? Upon further investigation, I found the packing slip and discovered that my brother Dave sent me the book on Monday. Talk about speedy delivery.

Later this evening, I had the chance to speak to Dave and thank him for the wonderful surprise. He said that he knows how much I love to cook and that he heard about the book on NPR on Monday (I couldn't find the story he heard. Maybe it was a repeat of this story.) and thought I'd enjoy it. How cool is that?

I have to say that this is the best cookbook I've ever owned. While it doesn't have pretty pictures of perfect looking foods, it has drawings of how to do things like shucking clams and removing a mussel beard. How to drawings are so much more useful than pretty pictures. I mean sure it's great to know what a dish should look like (in comparison to how it actually looks), but knowing the difference between slicing, dicing, julienne, roll cut, and chiffonade is priceless! I could have used those skills in the summer of 1991 when I worked in the kitchen at Watervale, but better late than never.

What's even better is that I'm having guests for dinner this weekend and maybe early next week too. So they'll be guinea pigs for my new mad cooking skills.

Do I have the coolest brother or what?

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