15 Jan Betsy’s Kitchen
Today I’m making lentil soup – Betsy’s lentil soup. As I follow her careful steps, I realize I can now share a little secret…
Four floors below Betsy is busily chopping garlic for that morning’s class. She lifts the cap within the wooden cutting board and wipes the papery skins through the secret hole into the garbage below. Her mis en place is complete. Pastry is chilling in the fridge. Stools curve around the kitchen island, waiting for the students arrive. Soon the door bell rings and a handful of adults, binders in hand, are ushered inside. William Morris-papered walls guide them down the stairs into the cozy basement kitchen below. How appropriate. There was nothing Morris valued more than the satisfaction gained through creative co-operation. Morris was an architect by trade, but he also embraced the arts of stained glass, embroidery, wallpaper, furniture design and tapestry. If the Victorian diet hadn’t been so uninspiring, his repertoire would, without a doubt, have included the culinary arts.
That year in France was peppered with many trips to 3 St. James’s Gardens. I hung on to Betsy by her apron stings; I followed her to Lidgate, her butcher, and Michanicou Brothers, her green grocers, then watched as she transformed her bounty into edible works of art. Betsy’s kitchen is a melange of craft, food, wine and story fuelled by students, close friends and family. She made a career from these ingredients and shared this vocation with those who walked through her door. Today I make a living writing about food. I thank Betsy for showing me the recipe.