We would never call inexplicable little insights “hunches,” for fear of drawing the universe’s attention. But they happened, and you knew you had been in the proximity of one that had come through if you saw a detective kiss his or her fingers and touch his or her chest where a pendant to Warsha, patron saint of inexplicable inspirations, would, theoreticaly hang. – The City & The City, by China Miéville
As some of you may know, I am a reader. I am also a re-reader. I will revisit a story over and over again, despite the teetery stack of books not-yet-read, books-not-finished, and books-I-should-read-but-probably-won’t. In some cases re-reading is a retreat, a way to escape immediately from day to day kitchen life that doesn’t involve whiskey, a trap-door to another world. Sometimes a re-read recontextualizes events in the daily life – a clear case of the subconscious reaching out and shoving a book into my hands when that story is the one I most wish/need to hear, or a story containing an element previously ignored or unnoticed, simply because that detail wasn’t (yet) pertinent. Those moments of discovery are to me what the glint of something shiny in the sand must be to a beach-dweller, who believed his stretch of sand well-combed. And sometimes the only impetus is sentimentality, the indulgence of the desire to stroll along familiar paths, to run my hands over touchstones from my youth, to console myself that I am still the same girl who cried until she had hiccups the third time through Where the Red Fern Grows. All of these books have become a part of my subconscious’s library, a place I’d like to imagine cozy and fire-lit, without the overflowing file cabinets and piles of papers and dubious sense of organization employed by my conscious mind.
So, come menu-writing time, all these books – fiction, non, atlases, picture books, cookbooks – all those ideas, places, pictures, and thoughts, are at the disposal of the Subconscious, who, still in pajamas, eating a piece of toast with peanut butter, sipping a nice cup of coffee, puts together a little something and sends it up to the Worker Brain, who skipped breakfast and is running late but who will nevertheless recognize the value of the idea behind a Hemingway Menu, featuring foods from Spain, France and Africa…and look. Worker Brain missed the bus. But there is an Idea in hand.
As I’m no longer in the business of writing a Fall Menu for an actual restaurant, I asked my Subconscious if I could take a look around, maybe see if I could come up with a Clog Blog, get a little work done. The reply was vague, the directions terrible, but I did find my way to a library where two books sat on a coffee table. Interestingly, it was the same coffee table we had in the house I grew up in. There was a note, but I couldn’t read it, so I turned my attention to the books.
I left the Subconscious library with a draft of “The Watership Down Menu.” Along with such items as “Owsla in a Blanket,” “Pipkin Surprised,” and “Chervil Chimichurri,” the menu would include Beer-Braised Hindquarters, with Roasted Swedes (rutabagas) and Flayrah Thlayli, with an especially hoppy beer and a nice tuft of lacinato kale and radicchio. Perfect for a Fall dinner with friends.