Saturday, December 21, 2013

Of butter and buttercream

At the TLS, Alex Danchev on two new books about food and art. It includes a luscious description of a book I have been meaning to look at ever since I first saw some of these cakes (I would buy a pink Thiebaud cake if I lived in the Bay Area) and this amazing passage written by Henry James (quoted by Mary Ann Caws in the other book under review):
I had an excellent repast – the best repast possible – which consisted simply of boiled eggs and bread and butter. It was the quality of these simple ingredients that made the occasion memorable. The eggs were so good that I am ashamed to say how many of them I consumed. “La plus belle fille du monde”, as the French proverb says, “ne peut donner que ce qu’elle a”; and it might seem that an egg which has succeeded in being fresh has done all that can reasonably be expected of it. But there was a bloom of punctuality, so to speak, about the eggs of Bourg, as if it had been the intention of the very hens themselves that they should be promptly served. “Nous sommes en Bresse, et le beurre n’est pas mauvais,” the landlady said with a sort of dry-coquetry, as she placed this article before me. It was the poetry of butter, and I ate a pound or two of it; after which I came away with a strange mixture of impressions of late gothic sculpture and thick tartines.

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