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Author Archive: "Tod Davies"

Of Books on Baguettes

I was chatting idly with my best friend the other day, and as usual, we ended up talking about books and food (this is doubtless a big reason why we are friends in the first place). Sometimes it's one, sometimes it's the other, but in this particular case, it was both of them combined.

"I love book clubs," he said.

"Oh, me, too," I agreed. "A bunch of people sitting around, preferably with a glass of wine in hand, talking about books. What could be better?"

"But there has to be food," he insisted. "There always has to be food at any kind of party. So what food would you serve that would be as stimulating, nourishing, and satisfying to a group of people with different tastes, as whatever book you all had gotten together to read?"

The query instantly made me fantasize about my very own perfect book club party.

It would be on a hot summer's day, cooling down then with just enough of a breeze to wake up the curiosity of the readers involved in the discussion. And the talk itself would be held under some trees in a shady meadow, around five in the evening. There would be wine for those who wanted it — red, white, and a lot of my favorite rosé. There would be sparkling water, with lemon and lime slices, for those who wanted that. There would be discreet little bowls of olives and roasted nuts and cloves of pickled garlic, for those who wanted a bit of a lagniappe before supper.

My Last Post

I guess because this is my last guest post, I've been thinking about what I would eat for my last meal (which is one of my favorite dinner table conversations, along with what literary character you most identify with — and the last time we had THAT conversation, one person said Mrs. Dalloway, one the narrator from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, one said Ahab — ! — the woman who had cooked the incredible meal said Richard Olney, and Alex said Alice in Wonderland... I was the Duchessa de Sanseverina in The Charterhouse of Parma that night...). And then, because it's just before breakfast, I started thinking about what I am actually going to eat next. And THEN, because these Powell's blogs always put the books you mention at the bottom, I started to think of what books I would ...

An Adult Version of Macaroni and Cheese for a Busy Autumn Day

It happens. The weather turns that great half-chilly undercurrent to what looks like, on the outside, a still-warm summer day, and everyone gets that edgy, invigorated feeling that comes with a change in the seasons. So it's fall again. And that makes me yearn for carbos and cheese and red wine... for macaroni and cheese, in fact. My macaroni and cheese (and I say this with all due modesty) is absolutely killer, as I'm convinced everyone's macaroni and cheese, as long as it's made with love, is, too.

However. My macaroni and cheese, like most classic versions of the dish, is a tiny bit of a palaver, involving a béchamel sauce, carefully added Dijon mustard, cream dolloped in an ivory mass at the last minute, paprika'd top... long bake to get it all crusty and golden brown on the edges. Delicious. But, like I said, a palaver.

Some days I like a palaver, and some days I just want to keep stacking wood for the winter in the late afternoon, and then follow Alex up to the back meadow to catch the last little bit of autumn day ...

Dog Agility and Vegetables; or, Ayn Rand Would Not Understand This Post

We went to our dog agility class today, which, for the uninitiated, is a hilarious kind of mini-Grand National training for dogs... hoops, tunnels, jumps, climb-its... the dogs love it and we, surprising ourselves, do too.  It's a great pleasure to take the long drive across the valley floor between the mountains, past the ranches and small-town houses, out to where Diane has all the brightly colored obstacles set out on her fresh mown grass.

Diane, who teaches the class, is one of those very American women you never hear about.  A good neighbor, a quiet citizen, a person who thoroughly enjoys her life, and has created that life to give her a decent, unextravagant living by doing the things she loves best. She's one of those people (thank God for them) who volunteers actively at the local animal shelters, and really makes a difference with her volunteering.  She's the one who started a free obedience class with each adoption; she goes out every week and teaches new pet owners how to get the best out of their pets. Doing that, she single handedly cut the return ...

Gourmet on the Chopping Block

In a way, it's kind of inevitable that they shut Gourmet magazine down. Condé Nast is owned by Sy Newhouse, and Sy Newhouse is one of the oldest of the old dinosaurs, who believes in individual genius and that it's shown by the genius pretty much ignoring every day life, and every day obligations. Newhouse is famous for urging his editors to spend more, waste more, act more and more extravagantly , as if to be flying outside of life as the rest of us know it is to achieve superiority, and to make sure that nobody who's superior ever has to shop for their own groceries ever again in their lives.

He believes in that. And he believes in a middle class that's controlled by that superior group, one that listens to everything that the ones on top tell them... whether it's how to run a wedding, or how to cook a meal, or how to organize a cultural life. Don't believe me? Have a look at Vogue. Look at Vanity Fair. All Sy Newhouse. All promoting the idea that there's a class ...

Hat Trick

It's good to be home. We spent last week on the road, reading Jam Today at the lovely Capitola Book Café, and the especially swell Skylight Books in Los Angeles, and I wore so many hats (EAP publisher, writer, online mag editor, driver, travel agent, dog wrangler, wife, publicist, marketing director, producer, snack cook, cleanup crew, etc. — you know, like a normal woman's life, come to think of it) that it felt like a bit of a balancing act to keep them all stacked up there, more or less upright, as we drove up and down the state. And when the readings were done, Alex and the dogs and I came back up the Eastern Sierras, the long way home, soon to be seasonally impassable. When we started out in Los Angeles, it was about ninety degrees, then, heading up the high desert, it got more and more autumnal. And on our first overnight stop, we found ourselves in a small, perfectly round hot spring on the side of an enormous mountain, looking down ...

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