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 like to see there...
A big wide bowl of as many freshly picked peas cooked with hearts of lettuce, split green onions, and butter as I can eat (I've never had this in actual life, but my guess is this would be a pretty big bowl).
A perfectly roasted duck with crispy skin.
A small casserole of Potatoes Anna, which is a finicky dish I never make for myself in real life because I can never seem to bring myself to the extra step of clarifying the butter.
A selection of blue cheeses (Fourme d'Ambert, Gorgonzola, Rogue Creamery Blue) with a perfectly ripe Bosc pear, because it's my last meal, and no one can tell me I can't only have blue cheese. Of course I can.
A few pieces of See's dark chocolate covered marzipan.
And to drink, I'd just let Kathryn and Paul Sloan of Small Vines wine pick me out one of their Pinot Noirs. Maybe since it's my last meal, I'd have a little chilled glass of framboise with the choccies, too...
But here's what I'm actually going to eat after I send off this post, and very much looking forward to it I am, too:
A Tortilla and Egg cooked in Duck Fat.
Simple, this. Satisfying and smelly. (The person who taught it to me, a hippie living in a mountain cabin with a husband named Magic Rock and daughter named Aspen Rose, made it with bacon fat. I like it with duck fat, but of course, in order to do it this way, you have to be a duck monomaniac who keeps the fat from her roast ducks for just such a moment. As it happens, I am such a monomaniac, and living proof that a carnivore can live in perfect harmony with a vegetarian.)
Heat a small cast iron skillet, and dollop in a spoonful of duck fat. When it's sizzling, add one corn tortilla. Cook a moment, then crack an egg on top. Break up the egg a bit with a fork. Salt. With one deft and anticipatory movement, flip the tortilla so the egg is on the bottom, scooping whatever bits seep out back under the tortilla with your fork. Turn down the heat and cook till the egg is done to your liking (no harm in peeking; just lift the tortilla and have a look). Flip the tortilla right side up onto your plate, spread with a little Dijon mustard, and, if you can get it to the table without eating it, eat slowly, wrapped in a tube, with your fingers.
This is best with fresh grapefruit or orange juice, but today it will have to just be accompanied by a cantaloupe half.
Now, there.I've given you one of my most prized recipes as a parting lagniappe.
So humor me here. I have to list my five favorite books so that Chris will line them up on the bottom of the page — that is, if Powell's still has them under its roof. But Powell's has every book under its roof. I have faith in that. And I have faith that you won't reject me, gentle reader, because at least two of the favorite books are the ones that seem to get mentioned every time Shelf Awareness interviews some writer and asks what books they have lied about reading. I always feel sort of weird when I see that, as if I have some secret bad habit, kind of like wanting tortillas and eggs and duck fat for breakfast. Sigh.
But here goes (in no particular order):
1.) War and Peace (this one no one seems to read but me, and I can't imagine why, unless it's just that no one admits to reading it).
2.) Proust's In Search of Lost Time (see above).
3.) Isak Dinesen's Winter's Tales.
4.) Stendhal's The Charterhouse of Parma (see farther above).
5.) Lewis Mumford's The City in History.
Farewell, all. See you farther up ahead. And thanks, Powells Books and all who sail in her brave and beautiful ship, for letting me paddle alongside for a while in my own little boat...
With best and warmest wishes that you, and everyone else, gets something nice to eat, from Tod (who's off to eat that tortilla and egg RIGHT NOW).
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Tod Davies lives with her husband, the filmmaker Alex Cox, and their two dogs in the alpine valley of Colestin, Oregon, and at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, in Boulder, Colorado. She is the author of Snotty Saves the Day and Lily the Silent, the first two novels in The History of Arcadia series, Jam Today: A Diary of Cooking with What You've Got, and Jam Today Too: The Revolution Will Not Be Catered, both from the Jam Today series. Unsurprisingly, her attitude toward literature is the same as her attitude toward cooking — it's all about working with what you have to find new ways of looking and new ways of being.
Books mentioned in this post
Tod Davies is the author of Jam Today Too: The Revolution Will Not Be Catered