Fondue parties are cozy fun. No longer are these gay dunking parties reserved for skiers at fabulous resorts. They are now the charming way to entertain guests of all ages for snacks, evening get-togethers, dinner or dessert and coffee. — “Fondue Cooking” 1970.
Carlos threw me a party for my thirtieth birthday. It was sort of an odd kind of surprise party. When I came home, the house smelled of food — though we were supposed to be going out, the table was rearranged and the chairs were missing. I went to the living room, and instead of an empty room, there were my friends sitting in the dark. Instead of yelling “SURRRPRRISE,” they offered just sort of a quiet, spooky “hey.”
Thus, I enter my fourth decade. Thirty finds me living in the attic of a converted Baptist rectory in Jersey City, back to the US after two years in the wilderness I really can’t explain. Now I’m in school again, reading and thinking about things on a level that make me feel inadequate. I have been furrowing my brow over life and thinking seriously about what is important, what direction I want take. The gas first ran out on me for the food blog when I was in China. It seemed trivial compared to the threat of bird flu, oil depletion, climate chaos, slum urbanization, and on and on… Except, the gas was running out on a lot of things that made me happy. I miss having a place to puzzle out some of the smaller, pleasurable discoveries that drag you from day to day. Thinking about food was one of those, as I kept coming up against things that were obvious and surprising: fire and food, the daily rejuvenating enthusiasm for filling your stomach.
Back to cheese: while I was wandering around Eastern China for Fodors, Carlos had a stellar career as cheesemonger paralleling his human rights degree in Ireland. When he left, his shop gave him a trip north to learn cheesemaking and a hundred dollar gift certificate for Murray’s Cheese in New York. His birthday gift to me was two fondue pots found on Ebay: and about 80 bucks worth of cheese in two bright enameled 70s fondue pots. Fire and cheese, and chocolate.
So, I’m not exactly sure what this blog should be about now that I’m no longer travelling. On the one hand, I am in New York metro area: the most over-examined city in the world. Everyone who eats is a food therapist, a food writer, a restaurant reviewer (just as everyone who takes the subway is a defacto transportation consultant, and walking Google Map). I don’t have the creds. On the street I still don’t know which way is north, and in restaurants I cannot out-eat the professionals. On my new student stipend, I’m doing a lot more eating at home, but enjoying it as much. I’ll try to keep to a topic, but I’m reading all about urbanization, anthropology, and such, so I might break into some other topics too. So, I’m hoping CookingFire can again encourage me to find some excitement from ingredients and meaning in eating.