Friday, September 4, 2009

A Found Book Joins the Family

Early one morning a few weeks ago, Phoebe and I were strolling home from the park when the keener of our noses demanded that we pause and investigate. Of the two of us, I'm the one who can read, but I would have missed the handwritten sign affixed to a battered carton. Was it scents from the shuttered restaurant that attracted Phoebe, or did she sense something different, smells arrayed for hands-on perusal? Did Phoebe, with her dog's wisdom, know that she was pointing me toward something I would enjoy?

"Help Yourself!" said the sign, and in the carton, like an untossed salad seasoned with some fairly strident condiments, were heaped cookbooks of all kinds.

I never met a cookbook I didn't like. I've been known to read cookbooks as if they were novels. What a cast of characters, and just wait until that stirring plot thickens! The villainous steak, the heroic leafy greens, the valorous legumes, the witty herbs and spices... But I digress. I fell for pure romance, and adopted Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts.

The book wasn't in bad condition. Some rubbing alcohol on a clean, lint-free cloth refreshed the laminate exterior. The edges gave up some residue. The pages were reasonably clean. I was already imagining how good some of those cakes and pasties would smell as they baked and cooled when I noticed that the book itself could be smelled, unappetizingly, clear across the room. From that moment until today, the book has been recovering, steeped in the savory scent brew in the carton in my office, my faithful colleague Buzet, who by making books smell better has much in common with restaurateurs and chefs: what smells good piques our appetites, for eating, reading, and cooking. That book now smells tasty, like a good cookbook should.

Thank you, kind soul who discarded a book I will care for and use. And thank you, Phoebe. You won't be sampling any of those recipes: consuming chocolate is my job. Home baking for you, dear dog, means only whole grains, and I know you wouldn't want it any other way!

1 comment:

  1. What a great find! I hope it smells good soon so you can try out some of the recipes! Good, smart Phoebe and her great nose!

    I hope you're enjoying the long weekend in NYC!