Rule of thumb when you pick up a book in a bookstore and find yourself still reading it five minutes later: just go ahead and buy it. It’s a lot of fun to rediscover something after several years. Paging through Unplugged Kitchen, I realized that La Place was a bit ahead of her time. Much of what she ecourages is getting a lot of attention today: basic home cooking that emphasizes good, well-grown vegetables simply prepared. Meat and other protein are secondary. Her food is intensely personal and encourages a playful improvisation, a love of imperfection and the kind of lifestyle that allows one to wander about here and there in search of the freshest ingredients.
This is both a good thing and at the same time a little romantic, much like the idea of a garden can be more attractive than actually having a garden (and all the work and tending and time that it requires.) While I love the image of a stack of linen towels as a symbol of an unplugged life--hell, I actually do the stack of linen towels thing--it’s not always possible for some folks to give up their conveniences. Sometimes having a food processor plugged in and on the ready means the difference between finally getting around to making that batch of pesto or not.
Still, in the end, I find myself leaning somewhat in the unplugged direction. I think this is because for me, cooking and being in the kitchen is a joy--I often don’t want to be anywhere else. To me there’s nothing more fun and sexy than cooking for someone I love.
So yes, I have frozen slabs of mac‘n’cheese in the freezer because there are times when that’s all I can manage. And I’m not against the occasional In’n’Out drive-through burger run either. But when my time has come and if I’m aware enough to be able to reflect back, I suspect those hours spent dicing onions or stirring polenta or figurung out how to roast a chicken will be among the sweetest.
So why not slow down a little, unplug a few things and enjoy the moment. After all, it's the only thing we really have.