Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How to be Clairvoyant. And a Damn Good Cook, Too.

I recently found out that Robbie Robertson released a new album, “How to Be Clairvoyant.”

Somehow, I knew that was coming.

Now...Do I still need to buy the album?

Anyway, I’ve been a fan since he was in The Band which, by the way, goes down in the annals of history as one of the best obvious names of all time. Right up there with “The Greatest” (Muhammad Ali), “She who must be obeyed” (Rumpole of the Bailey), “The Restaurant at the End of the World” (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy), "The Lincoln Memorial" (Washington, DC) and “The Blog Stud” (me).

But even though they had a name that rocked, what rocked more is that their lead singer played the drums. (I can already hear some of my younger readers asking, “What are drums?” To that I reply, “Look it up on Wikipedia.”)

Seriously, Levon Helm was one of the few drummers that could sing lead. (Please folks, don’t cite Ringo.)

So in a brief twinge of nostalgia I watched some clips from The Last Waltz on YouTube and spun some tunes from the Best of The Band on my CD player.

It’s funny how, in spite of the goofy clothes and occasional goofy stage antics, the songs hold up remarkably well. Just ask anyone who has listened to “The Weight”, “Stage Fright” or “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” And we won’t even get into BB King, Cole Porter or Vivaldi. Old is good. Often it is better.

And I find that it also applies to recipes. The good ones stand the test of time. I’m reminded of that every time I crack open a cookbook by Pierre Franey or James Beard. I not only say that because their books hit the shelves 50-some-odd years ago, but also because the recipes they contain were passed on to them from cooks who learned them 50 years or more before them.

The late great theologian and Yale professor Jaroslav Pelikan once said that, “Tradition is the living faith of the dead.” And that traditionalism was “The dead faith of the living.”

In some ways, I think that sentiment applies to cookery. Great cooking has passed the test of time and is worthy to be emulated. Faddish - or "-ism" cuisine is more risky. I’ll give these babies a shot, but I know it’s a gamble. (However, I'm well aware that some of these will find their place in the corpus and canons of cookery. But it will take time.)

So yeah, I'll give the "-isms" a shot. On weeknights, maybe. But when it comes time to presenting an elegant weekend meal to my lover or a group of dear friends? I’m hedging my bets with tradition.

I’ll also throw some Cole Porter, Vivaldi, BB King or The Band on the stereo.

And I predict a good time will be had by all.


  1. wow nice tips!hopefully i could follow every steps you said.

  2. I wouldn't dream of citing Ringo! How about Fred LeBlanc of Cowboy Mouth! Their music is more Friday night booze party than elegant weekend meal, but enjoyable nonetheless.

  3. One always returns to the classic, tried-and-true recipes for the win...much less disappointing then spending time/energy/money on an untested recipe that ends up bombing when you don't have the time/energy/patience to whip up something else.

  4. Hi, I'd be interested to read what your favourite all time, most coveted 3 course meal for family/friends/loved ones would be ...

  5. @Melanie. You got me there! LeBlanc certainly has a voice and energy that stays with you. One of the Big Easy's finest and fun bands for sure.

  6. @Juanita. I'm with you. Experimenting can be fun. But not necessarily at the expense of your guests. :-)

  7. @Kooky Girl. Hmmm. I'll have to give that one some thought because I go through phases. Let me get back to you on that (perhaps fodder for another post?...)