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Amber Paulen


21 December 2009


Cooking must be writing’s opposite. At least for me. Writing is the most solitary art and writers tend to be solitary people; minds that constantly struggle for words most accurate and truthful. Sometimes I feel that writing is a process of taking my head and stuffing it through the wrong end of a funnel; try as I may, it won’t go. Try and try, eventually these words must come refined.

But cooking is writing’s opposite. Cooking is the most social art. The food produced is then devoured. Whatever one has just created is ingested in a relative instant: food eaten is food enjoyed—unlike the book, which writers tend to believe will last into posterity. And also unlike the book written for readers to read in private, food is best when eaten around a boisterous table. Food and cooking hold traditions, contain memories, for even the most dire among us remember at least one happy table.

In the evenings, cooking is the most wordless thing to do, the most tangible, appealing and necessary. I learned to cook from my mom who learned from my grandma. My grandma is the master baker and my mom the master chef. This Christmas Eve they’re feasting on crab legs which always makes me wish I was there. This Christmas I’m in Formello, where we’ll cook up feast after feast and then eat it.

Today I began thinking about cooking because of my friend Carolyn’s blog, which keeps getting better and better. And though I haven’t tried her food yet, through her photography I feel as if I already have. Despite being a habitual reader, I find the internet to lack careful and interesting writing (which I’ll get to in another post) and so I often drift instead through the succulent world of food blogs. Early in the evening, food is so much more relaxing than words.

So, if I don’t write anything between now and January it means I’m feasting. Though I highly doubt my proposed break will go so far, as I’m speeding through Edward Dahlberg’s autobiography, Because I was Flesh. If I’m away from writing for too long, well, I’m unsure of what could happen—like shaken champagne I might self-combust… We’ll see, but in the meantime:

Merry Christmas!



Commentary for Cooking


1 On Monday 21 December 2009 carolyn manney wrote:

…and i learned to cook from you. the memory that sticks out in my mind is your dad coming over to the apt you shared with kim and cooking us all an amazing pasta dish. at the time i thought pasta sauce came out of a jar. you truly opened my eyes dear amber. i miss cooking with you. until christmas…..xoxo


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