Where the muse lives

Although I spend a lot of time in my kitchen cooking with ingredients and creating new recipes, I spend just as much time in my studio putting all the ideas down on paper. Before I wrote my first cook, La Bella Vita, I never wrote any recipes down. I had ideas, but they often changed and a dish was rarely made the same way twice. I learned from my cafe days, that you work with whatever the farmer brings your way that week, and that instilled a sense of adventure as much as flexibility in my cooking style. I still have to force myself to write down ideas or recipes as they come to me, but now I make it a ritual as delicious as cooking itself. LIke food, the words become the ingredients to savor and, on the page, I must somehow convey the experience to the reader so they, too, can live in that moment and have it enhance their own lives in some way.

People always ask me what would I do if I didn't have a food company. Well, one thing is for sure, I would still cook. It is as much or more my passion as my profession and often is the thing that allows me to get grounded and focus on my family, the most important thing in my life by far. And I write. The words roll around on my tongue like a soft, creamy cheese or a jucicy warm and bursting hierloom tomato. Food is never far away when the words hit the page, both on paper and in my studio. When I write, I am often called back to the kitchen to put the words into practice once again. Sometimes, it is just a simple pot of tea or warm cup of cocoa. It is, always, a sensual experience that invites the senses to awaken and remind us that life is more than our 9-5 work hours that distract us from what we really love.

Sunday mornings start in the studio. Soon, the scent of maple smoked bacon or apple and sage pork patties fill the air and call me to the kitchen. The Sunday morning breakfast is one meal where the kitchen becomes someone else's muse for a minute, while I tend to my own in my quiet little room. If it is spring, the door to the balcony is flung open so a soft silky breeze is the only distraction I allow. With the first hint of cold, an oakwood fire sings its songs as logs readjust themselves as they shrink to mere ashes and dust.

I don't smell any hint of something sizzling on the stove just yet, so I guess I will continue to stay where the muse lives, for now.

Buon appetito!

Alisa Barry copyright 2007

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