I’m the librarian of the Food Network’s library. I am looking for winter, but struggling. I see Mindy Heiferling’s A Taste of Spring, Elizabeth David’s Summer Cooking and Rick Rodgers’ Autumn Gatherings. Nowhere do I find winter.
This seems odd. Without the luxury of hibernation, I find that we’re forced into the kitchen during winter — if only in search of warmth or light. Our kitchens slow down to the pace of a simmer, larders get rooty, meats get more stew worthy. Winter may be low season in the farm cycle, but it is high season for cooking. Winter’s true harvest is to be found in the kitchen.
Cookbooks may pretend to have an aversion to winter, but don’t believe them. To find winter, look for it in bowls. Because bowl foods, literally and spiritually, physically and metaphysically, radiate warmth. Cold hands like a warm bowl. And the soups, stews, braises and other slow-cooking one-pot dishes that belong to bowls are the foods that truly deserve the name “comfort food” (everything else is the comfort of nostalgia).