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.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Another month, another catalogue

The ever-faithful Williams Sonoma catalog has arrived. It's like a magazine: Williams Sonoma, The Catalogue for Cooks. April 2007.

Features include Mother's Day, Easter, and elegant brunches.

I have written before (see 9/7/06) about the ways the W-S catalogue alternately angers and unnerves me. I should toss it the moment it arrives. But the lure is irresistible. What are the Spring-must haves for the chic cook?

How about fondue pots? Yes, friends, fondue is back. Some of you may recall your mother's fondue set, the pot and inset dust-covered in the breakfront's recesses, the handy forks used to spear the weekday chicken dinner. Never, ever, did your mom produce sterno, heft the pot out, and actually melt something in it. Your mother, like mine, had small children who made plenty of noise and mess. She did not need a fondue pot to create more.

But those little pots are back, elegantly All-Clad for $150, accompanied by a recipe for blue cheese fondue (which you are warned not to whisk, lest it turn blue), an artisan bread board, and a set of French platters. Now you, who may have small children of your own, can replicate your mother's hostessing, or lack thereof. If you are from California, your fondue experience, differing as it does from your mom's, may qualify as a Healing Experience. Especially if you allow your kids to help you make the fondue while wearing one of W-S's "personalized kids' apron," a steal at $22. You can wear an apron, too, $24-$34, depending on whether or not you monogram it.

Or you could go to Ace Hardware and buy a plain white apron for $7.99. Or you could filch one of your husband's old oxford button-downs, its collar too frayed for formal use, and wear that. Excellent coverage and comfort. Machine wash and dry.

As always, half the joy of the catalogue is its copy. Here, an "An Elegant Brunch:"

"A celebration of the pleasures of fine food and drink, brunch soon became a favorite for sophisticated entertaining on both sides of the Atlantic. Today, we continue this gracious tradition with stylish table-setting ideas and delicious recipes that make it easy to host a sophisticated brunch perfect for Mother's Day or other springtime celebrations." (5)

Sigh. This paragraph, surrounded as it is by photos of expensive French plates, champagne flutes, and two perfect women of a certain age toasting each other in a huge, perfect dining room, is certain to inspire guilt, envy, sadness, and a general sense of inadequacy. I write this on Sunday morning: my husband, exhausted from the workweek, is still asleep. Instead of a skirt and top, I am wearing sweats and a torn shirt. My mother is three thousand miles away; my husband's mother, five hundred miles distant. It is safe to say neither will come for Mother's Day brunch, which is a good thing, as my kitchen table seats only four. I have no dining room. I have no buffet to arrange platters upon, much less that many platters. As for those smiling women, one clearly intended to be the mother, to all of you whose mothers are dead, or maybe not on the best of terms with you, I'm sorry. Please do not take this catalogue to heart.

As for those of us with moms we get along with, well, Sunday brunch ain't it. Most of us work all week. We're tired. We don't want to get up at six a.m. on Sunday morning to produce an elegant meal that will require hours of clean-up. We want to sleep late, or lounge in our jammies drinking coffee. We want breakfast in bed with the cat nosing into our eggs.

We don't want company. We want--God help us--a little downtime.

Okay, enough about brunch. It's Springtime on our beleagured planet! In many places it's already too warm, or farmers are attempting recovery from the freezing temperatures that ruined California's citrus crop. No matter! Let's hop into the SUV and go berrying! When we return, we can prepare crepes with berries and ricotta, using:

"berry colanders: These wonderful colanders are adept at smaller tasks such as rinsing juicy berries..." (10)

Who knew a colander could be adept? Order yours today!

No? How about an espresso machine for $3659? Or the less expensive model, at steal at $1599?

Moving right along to the baking section, full of twee baking pans, molds, and decorating kits certain to frustrate all but the most sophisticated bakers. Three dimensional cookies? Bunny cake molds with smaller egg shapes? How does the larger cake finish baking without burning the smaller egg-shaped cakes? Tears on the horizon, people ...

Then there's the "W-S Kids (tm)" section. Here you can buy a kid's AeroGarden Indoor Garden. If you have the space for this item, I daresay you have the space for a real garden. Or the Salad People Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. Limited edition, signed by the author. We've come a long, long way from Moosewood.

I could keep going--to the Martha Stewart Homekeeping Handbook, complete with hilarious photo of Martha actually holding a spray bottle and paper toweling. I'm certain Martha hasn't cleaned a thing since leaving prison. Or I could talk about the mangle, or the lamb's wool duster. I could tell you all about the decorative bluebirds, which are "so lifelike, you almost expect them to break into song."

Maybe the colanders are adept enough to sing along?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Where can I read "A Discerning Eye"? I am happy to pay for it. The Blogspot address does not work.
Thank you!

March 19, 2007 11:36 AM  
Blogger Barking Kitten said...

Thank you so much for your request. I must confess that I have not given a moment's thought to how to make A Discerning Eye available. Looks like I'm going to have to figure something out. Stay tuned.

March 19, 2007 8:31 PM  

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