Barking Kitten

Fiction, musings on literature, food writing, and the occasional Friday cat blog. For lovers of serious literature, cooking, and eating.


Close to forty. Not cool. Politically left. Atheist. Happily married. No kids.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Confit, lamb, and Costco

The confit I laboriously put up six weeks ago is out on the counter, coming to room temperature. Soon enough Hockeyman and I will know whether or not all that work, expense, and mess was a success. Because it is August, we will eat our confit with fresh corn and tomatoes. Somewhere a French farmwife is cursing my willful American idiocy (no cabbage??), but waste is a sin, non?

In other food notes, Nora arrived at the office with twenty-odd pounds of lamb, trimmed into what appear to be random pieces in freezer bags. One bag reads: stew 8/6; the others say nothing. I recognize ribs and chops, but the chops do not appear to be sliced. I don't have a bandsaw, so I'll have to roast them.

I slipped Nora some money and lugged it all home. The chops are defrosting. Everything else is in the freezer, waiting. The meat makes me think of something Anthony Bourdain says in Les Halles Cookbook:

"I urge you to buy the cheapest, toughest--but best quality--beef you can get. Then challenge yourself to make something delightful out of it. Experiment. Try. Fail. Try again." (121)

This meat isn't cheap, but the cuts are different and I am not expert with lamb, so, duly challenged.

Finally, I am no longer a Costco virgin. Yesterday I went to the Richmond Costco with a colleague to stock up for a work event. First impression: freezing cold. The store sits right on the Bay, where it benefits from the winds and fog sweeping in from San Francisco. Thus thoroughly chilled, we grabbed an enormous flat-bottomed cart, the kind construction workers use to move building materials, and proceeded to spend almost $500.

I realize I am probably one of the last Americans to visit the Costco behemoth, and will spare you the details, save my protracted stop in the book section, which consisted of two tables near the registers. There were numerous cookbooks of the Williams Sonoma entertaining variety, dull low fat books, and an untouched shipment of "La bonne cuisine de Madame E. Saint-Ange" for twenty bucks. I circled around to the "literature": the new Lolly Winston, lots of science fiction, lots of Nora Roberts. While my colleage ran around the store, I read the opening pages of Candace Bushnell's Lipstick Jungle. This is something I would only do in a warehouse, surrounded by families buying seventeen-packs of Kirkland hamburger buns and housewives loading their carts with enormous amounts of cheap liquor. Ms. Bushnell's writing is remarkably reminiscent of Judith Krantz's, whose ouevre I devoured between the ages of twelve and fourteen. Ms. Krantz has characters named Billie and Maxi and Daisy. (Scary, the things one remembers.) Ms. B. has Victory, Nico, and Wendy. Back in the day the setting was Rodeo Drive; now it's the Bryant Park Fashion shows.

My colleague, having found the soft drinks she wanted, interrupted me just as Wendy ran into a male fashion model whose name now eludes me. We paid and escaped. My final impressions? Costco is great if you have small children. And Ms. Bushnell will never go the route of her fellow writers Richard Brautigan and John Kennedy O'Toole, both of whom despaired over their lack of literary success, committed suicide, and never knew how much love and respect their work finally received. I am pleased to report this will never, ever happen to Candace Bushnell, who, unlike either man, has the good sense to write about clothing, wristwatches, and ridiculously expensive sandals.

Bourdain, Anthony, Jose De Mierells and Phillippe Lajaunie. Les Halles Cookbook. New York: Bloomsbury Books. 2004: 121.

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