I have serious ADD when it comes to sitting down and reading. I think it all started when I was a kid and my parents put us to bed at an obscenely early hour. Like... sun still up, school bus still dropping kids off (I'm not sure of this fact, since I never took the bus, but I assume it's true), soap operas still on TV kind of early. I hated it. Obviously, it was too light out to sleep, but it was "bedtime", and thus we had no choice. Our parents were bigger than us.
Our only escape from evening after evening of laying on our backs, trying to identify faces of cartoon characters or former presidents in the textured ceilings, was to read. We were allowed to stay up as late as we wanted if we were reading. That was the rule. And it sucked. According to my mom, I used to love to read. This is one of those romantic memories she has. (Did I mention my mom is a teacher?) Maybe she caught me reading one day and had a warm tingly feeling in her heart like "Oh my, I can't believe my luck! I have a daughter who is reading on her own, and she seems completely content!" And for some reason, that stuck in her head. I remember it differently.
There is one exception to this inexplicable loathing... I can read about food. I can read 20 different recipes from 20 different chefs on how to make the simplest potato and leek soup (by reading the way several chefs do something, it prevents me from taking any one perspective or recipe as gospel, and teaches me a certain amount of improvisation), or read Marcella Hazan's Marcella Cucina from start to finish for the 4th time and learn ten things I didn't pick up on the last time.
And it isn't just cook books. It's anything about food. Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything is one of the few books I'm so glad I picked up (used, on Amazon.com for 37 cents, mind you) and read from start to finish, including chapters entitled "Why Aren't the French Dropping Like Flies?" and "Salad the Silent Killer". What is it about a compare and contrast session on 35 different types of ketchup, or learning the precise temperature at which a potato should be mashed (180 degrees) and why that helps avoid it turning gummy (it has to do with finding the balance between where the potato's cells are no longer strongly bonded to one another and where the cell walls weaken and rupture), that fascinates me?
I honestly don't remember the last time I read a non-food book from start to finish... I'm sure it wasn't in the past 5 years... maybe not even in the last 10. I don't mean that food is my only interest, but it is the only topic of text that undoubtedly captivates me, and that truly and directly translates into real life. You can take a lesson learned and put it on a plate that very evening, and never forget the reason behind the lesson. I understand food people, and I think they understand me. There is always more to learn, and someone great who is ready to teach.
If anyone has a food book they just can't live without, please let me know! I'm officially on the hunt for the next great one.