Friday, August 7, 2009

Shopping Spree

I don't like shopping. The only actual purchasing I enjoy honestly, involves either books or food. I could spend every last penny on either. I love browsing the gourmet grocery store and the book store with equal lavish abandon.

Because my kids have music lessons in the evening, my husband is home with the littles. I can gallantly volunteer to bring the olders to the music store and spirit myself into another world for the thirty minutes. Sometimes I go to the upscale grocery and stare at the beautiful foods my kids won't eat. Other times I go to the Borders and pour over the new books and imagine my name there.

Then there is the ritual. At the grocery store, I examine the vegetables I've never cooked, chocolates I've yet to taste and fantasize about making a French Onion soup that taste just right or Stromboli on some Friday night just for fun, or artichokes with melted butter that I don't wind up just eating by myself for four days. It's fun to dream.

If I'm at the bookstore, a similar ritual plays out. I pick up at least three political books to read the back cover, a history or two in a fit of dutifulness, and then head to the area I really love.

It happened over time, my love of food and my love of books merged. I noticed it with the book Like Water for Chocolate, and again as I found the cook books I liked best, had stories sprinkled in them like extra ingredients. "The Frugal Gourmet," "The Texas Cookbook" and Don DeLouise's "Eat This, You'll Feel Better" all shared a common thread of tasty mental tidbits in addition to awesome chicken and pasta, deadly delicious smoked burgers and a sponge cake that my kids still ask for whenever I offer them the option.

So now I go to the cook book section and drool.

Over the years, I have amassed a collection of cookbooks that is roughly 50 strong, ten of which are so used that they either have lost a back or pages, or have been repurchased used, as they are out of print. As such, I tell myself, I don't need another cookbook.

For a while, I'd managed to justify getting new cookbooks by restricting my purchases to when we were out of town. If say, we were at a civil war battle field touring and the gift shop touted "Cookbook of the Civil War, Union and Confederate dishes," I'd buy it and say, "We can learn a lot from this about the lives and history of our country." But most of these type of cookbooks, if accurate, are largely filled with recipes more inedible than hard tack. Conversely, if they contained "Cajun Spiced Sushi" or other inventive meal offerings that wouldn't have been found within 100 years or 1000 miles of the historic site offering the book, I can't be bothered. As such, I had abandoned this excuse to buy new cooking tomes and allowed my collection to top out at 51 as of last year.

So when I ducked into the book store and was hit with the sales pitch for Julia Child's Joy of French Cooking as I'd picked up the book "Julie and Julia," it took all my mental will not to plink down the extra forty bucks and get the matched set. But the addictive/suggestive part of my mind had been triggered.

By the time the kids got back in the car, my brain was already firing on the gourmet experience I'd spring on my husband. There were mushrooms and potatoes and fresh cherry tomatoes and chives. The neurons were so busy making connections and plotting the whole meal they didn't register that the cell phone rang so my daughter picked it up.

Their father had treated the kids to some fast food and had some waiting for us at home.

"That's great." I murmured. The kids cheered in the car. My pseudo foodie rush crashed hard.

But I vowed silently, next week I'd be serving artichokes and everyone would be eating them. That, or I'm going back to get those two bonus Julia Child cookbooks.


Beth said...

Ohhhh, that's a potent addiction, that is. I have a similar one, though "only" 20 actual cookbooks on the shelf. On the occasions that the urge hits I justify it by saying to myself that I am trying to broaden my kids' food horizons. What it really is is a never-ending quest to find meals that all 5 of us like/will eat so as to avoid the "so what *else* is for dinner" question. I am constantly reminding them that mom is not the short order cook. And, like you, I love to fantasize about all those yummy meals with nice fresh ingredients that don't involve any of the standard "kid favorites."

MightyMom said...

I inherited all my cookbooks and wouldn't know how to cook from a recipie that DIDN'T have annotations in the margins....and between the typed lines....and ingredients added...or marked out....with THE store to buy THE brand of sausage for the gumbo written next to the ingredients.....

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!