My favorites – reading, cooking, Paris, introspection

Sometimes when I read a book I really like, I do a Facebook post recommending it, and every now and then I get really inspired and write a blog.

This blog combines a book, my transparent emotional life, and this god-awful earache I am experiencing.

Today I finished “The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry” by Kathleen Flinn.  And knives notwithstanding, I cried when I read the last pages.

I’m having an emotional day.  I have an awful ear infection and I feel miserably ill.  In my usual style, I waited way too long to see the doctor and I now know why little kids cry and pull their ears.  So when one doesn’t feel good physically, it is easy to feel emotionally crappy.  I have no job and have not had one for nearly a year.  I am told that is enough to make anyone cry.  Last week I had a conversation with a friend about not working, depression, insanity.  As you can see, our talk apparently degenerated rapidly.  I told her I had decided years ago that I was intellectually insane.  Defined by me – I’m so overly-analytical that no matter how hard I try, I cannot always tell how I feel because I’m intellectualizing everything instead of just being.  This may be why I’m not feeling crazy about being unemployed and almost broke; I just keep thinking about it.  And turning it over.  And looking at it from the right and the left and the top and the bottom.  And concluding there is no reason to be depressed.  I’m alive.  I have a great family and nice friends and a dog I adore.  I love where I live.  What good would being depressed do?  Attitude is everything.  Right?  But part of me “feels” like crap.  I think I say all this to try to explain why I cried over a book I loved without good reason.  For one requires a reason to weep?

I am programmed to have loved this book.  A woman is laid off from her job, depletes her savings account, moves to Paris, attends and graduates from Le Cordon Bleu cooking school, falls in love and gets married, learns tons about herself, and writes a book about it.

eiffel-tower-dayle cordon bleu

I learned again I know nothing about cooking.  The hardest, and by hardest I mean most time-consuming and detailed thing I have ever made, recipe I have ever followed, is Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon.  Recipe here if you have a snowy Sunday afternoon to spare.


After I did it, I swore I’d never do it again.  But time has dulled the memory of this undertaking and I’m planning on doing it soon.  This winter.  Why not?  It was fabulous.  I think everyone who loves to cook should stretch now and again.  It’s good for you.  Kathleen Flinn cooked every single day like this.  I’m impressed.  Her book includes recipes.

The very end of this book, there is a paragraph that reads as follows:

How many tears did I cry because I didn’t know what I wanted?  “The sharper your knife,” as Chef Savard had said, “the less you cry.”  For me, it also means to cut those things that get in the way of your passion and of living your life the way it’s meant to be lived.

Also from the book – toward the beginning (I looked hard to find this passage for you):

“Chef says that with a dull knife, it’s true, you end up pressing too hard on the onion.  This crushes the cells, causing volatile oils from the onion to be released, and it’s the oil that makes you cry.”


I was also very happy about how much written French I understood – like 98% of it.  The cooking and the French relate like this.  I am considered a decent cook by lots of people – even myself.  I can speak French – more than most and some people think I am actually good at it.  But here is what these two things have in common.  I cook enough to know I’m not that good.  I speak enough French to know I’m not that good.  But I keep on trying and enjoy learning more.

Kathleen Flinn met Julia Child twice – the first time at a food writer’s workshop.  Also from the book:

She took copious notes of the morning’s session.  As we broke for lunch, she closed her notebook with a satisfied smile.  “I always love to come to this workshop.  You learn so much. “This amazed me. After all, she was Julia freakin’ Child.  I assumed she knew everything there was to know about food and cooking.  I politely told her so.  She laughed.  “Oh, no, you can never know everything about anything, especially something you love,” she said, patting me on the knee.  “Besides, I started late.”


Kathleen Flinn grabbed the opportunity that presented itself to her.  It wasn’t exactly what she wanted but it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to her.  She was brave and she was rewarded with a wonderful experience.

In conclusion (laughing at myself), I loved this book.  I can see lots of my reading friends loving it.  Especially those who like to ponder, cook, travel, learn.  Those who strive for something a little more.  Those who have considered, if only for a moment, of tossing it all and doing something different.

Happy Reading my friends!


8 thoughts on “My favorites – reading, cooking, Paris, introspection

  1. I ‘inherited’ my mother’s butter-tomato-water stain spattered first edition of Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” (some of the pages singed from sitting too close to the burner). Each time I open that cookbook I am overwhelmed by memories of my mother and fantastic family meals. Thanks for this post! PS: Have you gone to see Julia Child’s kitchen at the Smithsonian Museum? Wonderful.

    • I have seen Julia’s kitchen in DC but would love to see it again. I have a couple of cookbooks that look like that – all dirty and grease-stained. Not MTAOFC though. That should be my next goal. To make a mess of that book. Thank you for reading and commenting, Jadi.

  2. Naturally, I want to read this. Cooking is fun and adventurous, especially if you don’t mind going outside the lines. I always enjoy reading your blogs. Keep it up.

  3. Susan, with all your analytical and hard-thinking about the whys and what-ifs of life, do you not see what is so clear to many of us? You have exceptional perspective and the introspective writing that comes from it makes a great read! I wish you could find a way to develop it that would lead to personal satisfaction and monetary gain! I think you need to write your life story, or at least your view of life – and see what comes of it. It could at least be good therapy (as these great blogs are) but it could also turn into something bigger. You have a novel or autobiography in you just waiting to get out. Write on!

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