Stories : Drawing The Menu

Cooking in volume is about timing moving parts—keeping your eye on the rice while you're watching the cake and browning the meat and waiting for the water to come to a boil. It requires efficiency, both in materials and time. The work is impossible without a sense of juggling, an obsession with order, and an ability to plan ahead. Kitchen work is active, on your feet thinking where poor-timing and lack of order directly effect the food. Day-dreamers need not apply.  

The leisurely cook, on the other hand, loves slow-braised meats, yeasted breads, and a glass of wine to accompany the work. The priority is the pleasure of the activity, the therapeutic nature of adding this-and-that and coming out with something made magical with the length of time rather than the control of it. 

I've always lived between these two realms, alternately needing one feeling or the other.  I want to hold close the pleasure of being in the kitchen without sacrificing efficiency. Because time is not a resource in plentitude when you're making a hot meal for twenty people, I satisfy the leisurely cook in me by drawing out my menus and processes.  This "pre-work" is the way I've come to add attentive care to my food.  I love the tediousness of hand-writing my thoughts and visualizing through drawing—it slows me down and forces me to be more thoughtful about my work.  It's a process of planning for me.  Drawing a menu is an editing tool by nature, it makes you visualize the scope of the meal, see how it all works together, and make adjustments where needed.  

An unexpected benefit of this process has been looking back at my menus and remembering the lived meal, considering how it all turned out, and thinking of the people I shared the experience with.

Here are a few of sentimental menus. I hope you enjoy.