I prefer to worship at the altar of hospitality, rather than entertaining. Entertaining parses your life into into realms. The private realm is marked by gruel, dog food and the odd can of water chestnuts. The entertaining realm features sourdough loaves fashioned from home-grown wheat, spit-roasted French game birds and Pakistani mango tiramisu. You pull out and dust off this fancy life for visiting poobahs. As far as your guests can tell, your life is a moveable feast. Hospitality doesn’t make these distinctions. It simply invites you into my life. And this is where bruschetta and crostini come in.* They’re anti-poobah food.
Photographing Sardines with Feta and Salmoriglio this past week reminded me of a fancy dinner where Jody and I found ourselves sitting across the table from Stephen Hawking’s literary agent, who told a story about A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME. The original manuscript, we learned, had been an overlong demanding text several times the size of the slender volume that was eventually published. The agent revealed how he convinced Hawking how to pare it down. ”I explained to him that every time he used a mathematical formula in his book he was going to lose half his readers.”
Hawking must have taken his advice to heart. There’s nary a single formula in the entire story.
Friends have suggested a similar axion holds for food bloggers. Every time you publish a photo of a fish with its head on you’re going to lose half your readers.
We haven’t made a cake for awhile and Rhubarb and Rose Upside-Down Cake seemed like a no-brainer. Some pale pink rhubarb for spring, a note of the exotic in the rosewater, the whole thing delivered in as folksy and unpretentious American a package as one could imagine–an upside-down cake.