Sunday, July 29, 2012

Field Trip

It started with a photograph with the tagline "essential summer reading."

The two books on the bottom of the pile did not immediately surface in search results lists on various bookselling sites, perhaps because they have a web site of their very own.

The site has a description and videos and a blog.  It also has a list of retail establishments -- all of them independently owned and many of them devoted exclusively to food -- where they can be purchased.

Rabelais - Fine Books on Food and Wine in Maine is a place I have heard of and have wanted to visit for a while, but then I saw Stir Boston and decided to check that out instead.

I don't think that Julia Child would even fit in that kitchen, and I wish that I had more time to explore the surrounding area, because it is in an interesting area of Boston.  I am already planning a return trip when I have a bit more time.

The book selection is small, but impressively diverse if a bit more on the gourmet or high end or ... advanced end of the shelf.  No television celebrities that I could see.  There was even a copy of Modernist Cuisine on the shelf, which I think might make an appropriate subjective bookend to Notes from a Kitchen, because it is as technical and scientific and structured as Notes is freeform, organic and alchemical -- two ends of the spectrum or two sides of the same coin.  In between I found The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz and Blue Eggs and Yellow Tomatoes by Jeanne Kelley and Spice: Flavors of the Mediterranean by Ana Sortun and Heston's Fantastical Feasts by Heston Blumenthal, as well as Blumenthal's cookbooks and all of the River Cottage books.

The best part is that not only do places like Stir and the other establishments on the list exist, but they are thriving.  At least, I hope they are thriving.  Based on the call I heard the employee take while I was paging through cookbooks, Stir certainly is.  Cooking classes and private events are booked well in advance, and the business is preparing to celebrate its fifth anniversary next month.

Equally encouraging is the success of grassroots creative endeavors.  I'm sure that they have always been around, and I am sure that there are still quite a few that never see fruition, much less success, but there are projects such as Notes from a Kitchen which have found a niche and a market without being sold through major outlets.

It is certainly inspiring, potentially motivating ... contagious, even (in a good way).

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