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Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Writing Life: Simply Becasse, Amusing the Muse, and Fava Beans



OK. What do you do when you only have a few minutes to write? Do you write, or do you say no – I’ll wait till I have more time.

More time? You’d think by now I’d have known how. Known better.  Known something!
But my dear editor, Catherine Adams, says it’s no different any time. A new story demands newness! (See, she is very logical and ever the clever one! I even love her simplicity, and her ability to cut right through the emotional turmoil I might heap upon the heap of happiness at having won an award for City of Ladies last year. And yes, I am still patiently, mostly, waiting for an answer from The Publisher.)  

Catherine , who took these amazing photos of Paris ~ because she is an incredible photographer as well, says even though you learned where every clove of garlic went, how long to let this barley and rye bread rise and how to shape it into snails and seahorses and feed the levain over your 500 kilometer journey, well, that’s nice and was necessary for that novel– but  – still that novel is not this one.

But still, I chide myself that I should have known better. Than to try getting down to serious work in May. Minuteless May! Since 1997 I’ve had 15 years of such May’s. May’s are the month before our busiest 9 weeks of the year with my other life as chef/owner of C’est si Bon! Cooking School.


Recent student, Amber, Guidance Counselor and now, Crepe Expert

Right now, this Food Stylist’s Adventures with Becasse is in Process, more so than Progress ~ oh, and BTW Becasse are woodcock, a most rare and dignified and treasured game bird. The very haute of haute cuisine. Illusive, perhaps just as illusive as moments to work at the moment.

Becasse and her significance, lore, and preparation is an enticing and dear challenge to me. Lucky enough to have traveled to France last fall and tasted it, watched it being prepared. I was not prepared for that. My mind’s eye closes and spins me through the aromas.  How the bird crunched and crisped its way into my heart. And mouth.



Well, well, well. BUT.

My challenge is to rewrite this story in the third person --- and how I LOVE LOVE LOVE the scope of this adventure. Both the story and the adventure of learning something new have called.

Er, I mean: For her – for pleasure’s sake understand that she loves this task of writing the Food Stylist’s Story with such adoration and a great abandonment. This abandonment is of such magnitude that it might, it could, lead her to abandon that which she also loves.

Teaching Seafood Crepes with a Rich Bechamel sauce. 
Demoing how to make Fava Bean and Cauliflower Salad at the farmer’s market. 
Living in the present. 
Talking to her sons. Visiting friends. 
Seeing her husband at breakfast. 
Picking chives. Seeing him on the deck for wine at sunset. 
Pickling peppers. Watching the bats with her said "him." 
Writing recipes. Returning phone calls.
Listening to owls. 

All this could happen and has happened to her. It could be permanent this time. That is if she were to get carried away. You see dear reader, that is just and exactly how wonderful the muse can be. When the muse calls everything else slips behind an opaque curtain.  

How do you work with your Muse? Does your Muse amuse you? 
Must you schedule Muse Moments? Perhaps the Muse can’t be scheduled? 

But I think I may set up a strict schedule. I May! Especially since it is May.

So, I’ll know if you have read this by the twinkle in your eye or voice next time we talk and I say, “Wish I could..”

While muse-wrangling ~ I’ve devoured these books.  

Needing to Kneading Dough by Claude Esnault ~ A Votre Biographie Edition ~FANTASTIQUE!

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell ~~ riveting and visceral

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery ~ intellectual, have you read it? lovely lovely!

(The Hedgehog is the film adaptation of the Novel.)

And may I share a recipe?

fresh fava beans with garlic and basil

from their sighting early in may, fresh fava beans are part of the sweetness of the season.

makes 6 servings

2 pounds fresh fava beans in the pod, shelled
10 plump cloves garlic, peeled, halved, green germs removed
4 fresh or dried bay leaves
1-1/2 quarts cold water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
1 cup fresh basil or other herbs

to cook fresh beans: in the saucepan, cover the beans with water, adding the bay leaves and garlic. cook for fifteen minutes or till just tender. you can serve this one of two ways.

  1. squeeze the beans from their shells. then combine the shelled beans with the olive oil and stir to coat. season with salt. stir in the fresh basil. taste for seasoning and serve.
  2. leave the beans in their shells and combine with the olive oil and stir to coat. season with salt. stir in the fresh basil. taste for seasoning and serve.
  3. watch your guest have fun popping them out of the shell. 


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