Beauty, By Mara L.

Copyright 2004 Jens Haas -

Yesterday afternoon, I decided to finally leave the apartment, get out into the cold and look at some shows in Chelsea that I had wanted to see for a while. I meant to meet up with Jens later, who was going to some photography shows, but it simply got too cold for me. However, I discovered Brice Marden’s prints, at Susan Sheehan Gallery, which are just utterly beautiful. Here are my two favorites: “Grid 1” (1971), here, and “Beyond Eagles Mere” (2001), here.

So, this morning, with my apologies for not turning up yesterday, I’m sending this along to Jens, hoping that he will post it on his blog…

American Kitchens, By Mara L.

Copyright 2006 Jens Haas -

This past weekend I met up with Jens, at Christie’s, the famous fine art auctioneer. Jens had emailed me. They had a large collection of William Egglestone’s work on display. Not, of course, that I could buy one. But I love Egglestone’s work, and hadn’t had a chance to see it for a long time.

Looking at the images, I thought that Egglestone tricked me into missing something: food. Here’s my new, entirely unsupported and widely speculative theory. Without my theory in place, I would find it hard to describe what, to me, is the core of Egglestone’s work. Perhaps the glorious colors, a certain ‘feel’ of the south, a love of the land, and a deep sadness. Oh dear! I’m rambling. But with my theory in place, things are easy: The core of Egglestone’s work is the lack of food on tables that could carry food.

My two favorite images are American kitchens. Or rather, one of them definitely is. It’s one wall of an old-fashioned kitchen (here), the kind of kitchen that is reminiscent of the time when women spent lonely lives slaving away in the kitchen, and when a stain was a stain on the housewife’s reputation. Brrr! Not for me, who loves to love her kitchen. My second favorite (here) is a table, perhaps in a kitchen, but more likely in a diner. Again, no food, the tabletop wiped clean. How sad! How much would one like to see the foods of bygone times.

However, it’s not like I’m not getting the point. Of course, the melancholy would be gone if a lovely cake stood there, and the quiet beauty of the images probably too.

So, no culinary notes today, but I recommend looking at the pictures.

Eating Fish In Manhattan, By Mara L.

Copyright 2008 Jens Haas -

I’ve been back to Manhattan for a few weeks now, and I’m finally resuming my culinary duties on Jens’ blog. Part of this year’s readjustment (after my summer at home, in Italy) is about fish. I’m a pasta-eater, a cake-eater, and a fresh fruit-eater. But not a fish-eater. What a shame that none of my foods are sold in Manhattan in the very way in which I enjoy them in Italy. I admit that, given that my second (or third) home is Procida, an island near Napoli, it might seem that I should be a fish-eater. But that would be mistaken. Really, Procida is a rather poor island, with none of the international high-life that you find next door, in Capri. We eat Spaghetti with all kinds of things from the sea thrown into it – small things, quite deliciously blending with the tomato sauce. And essentially, it’s still spaghetti.

No culinary author should say she doesn’t love fish. But I’ll just go ahead and say it. However, what else is there to eat in Manhattan? Nothing else seems as fresh and fragrant as I would like it to be. Fish, if you buy it at the right places (including Citarella’s, Balducci’s, and others) is crisp, hard to the touch, and luminous. So, I am coming around, learning to live on a diet of fish. And I’m telling myself that it will help sustain my Manhattan health. But this brings me back to my deepest culinary puzzle, whether what’s good for the body is good for the soul, and whether it’s not obvious that the soul is more important. Can anyone be made happy by fish?