The Slow-Cooked Sentence

An intersection of food and fiction

Rachael Conlin Levy

The salad bowl is its own story, polished with olive oil and suffering a significant chip from its rim, it’s graced my table nightly since Marcel and I married eighteen years ago. My basic dressing is three parts olive oil to one part vinegar, but I prefer the pictorial recipe I found in “The Fireside Cookbook” written by James Beard in 1949 and illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen:

Four persons are wanted to make a salad — a spendthrift for oil, a miser for vinegar, a counselor for salt and a madman to stir it all up.

My children, however, resent the recommended company and insist upon their own ratios, delivering to the table salads dressed more tartly than a teenager girl, others so bland I brought the bottles of vinegar and oil to the table to correct the deficiencies.





Over time, the bowl’s matching serving spoons went missing, or maybe I broke one? Yes, in a rage spoon hit table, wood splintered, and the top half of the spoon flew across the kitchen as I held the handle in my hand. Memory is a single, oily moment of time, pressed to extract its essence, which drips to form a glistening puddle undisturbed for years until I walk through it, the moment clinging to the soles of my shoes so that as I make the day’s salad I remember a spoon’s demise. For years, the family made do, serving the salad with cooking spoons until one child or another gave me a new set as a gift. Wear and tear gave them their own chipped rims, and things matched once again.




4 responses to “An intersection of food and fiction”

  1. Lovely post and delicious-looking salad. I’m charmed by the fact that you’re the only other person I know who’s familiar with this cookbook (wrote about it on my blog though I didn’t mention it by title: I never realized it was written by James Beard!

  2. Linda says:

    Oh the pictures! Makes me want to eat salad for every meal.

  3. Ah, well-loved and therefore well-used kitchen items. They are the best. I hope your bowl sees many more salads.

  4. Bill says:

    A wonderful story all the way.

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