Recipes are a huge part of my life right now. I just said goodbye to a house full of company for whom I had to cook many meals over the course of the Thanksgiving holiday. The entire week before cookbooks covered the kitchen island: a 1965 Treasury of Great Recipes put together by Mary and Vincent Price, my trusty thirty-four year old binder into which I've taped and scribbled recipes most of my adult life, Barefoot Contessa's Back to Basics. I have a 1951 Whole Grain Cookery book with a preface by Pearl Buck, and The Fallingwater Cookbook, a collection of recipes that Elsie Henderson cooked for the Kaufmann family at their famous Fallingwater residence. Vegetarian cookbooks, pressure cooker recipes, a Polish Cooking cookbook, Martha Stewart, Rocco Dispirito and yada, yada, yada.
On night three of my obsessive search for a menu with just the right balance of easy (isn't it more about the company than the food?) and complex (well, it was my stage, after all) my husband wandered over and asked, "What are you looking for, now?"
"Cranberry salad," I said.
He picked up my notepad. "Isn't this a list of cranberry salad recipes? It looks like one, two, three, four, five, six different ways you can make cranberry salad.
Just pick one."
"I want someone to say, "Wow, love the cranberries.""
"How many ways can you make cranberries?"
That's funny, I thought, even though there's a finite choice of ingredients on the earth, they are the subject matter of every one of these books and thousands upon thousands more.
"I guess it's infinite. Or nearly so." It's the way the ingredients are combined, and stirred, and cooked that distinguishes them and allows for, literally, millions of recipes to emerge. There is no last recipe using cranberries and there never will be.
It's the same with storytelling. Love. War. Winning. Losing. Hope. The ingredients don't change. It's the writers recipe that makes it different. It's your secret ingredients that make it special. There's no last way to tell a story.The permutations are limitless.
Whoops. How did this picture of my beautiful new grandson get in here?