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This project’s ‘hard stuff’ factor has entered a new phase for me; one that largely revolves around planning. As I close in on the last quarter of the book, there are fewer dishes to choose from on short notice, and every dish is more-involved than most other I’ve tried so far. The techniques are more familiar to me, but still difficult is finding ingredients, especially super-seasonal ones. E.g. I’ve spent the past 2 months carefully watching produce drift in and out of season at various markets for a lobster dish I hope to cook soon.

I was remarking to Sarah this past weekend that this is stressing me out a little; it’s hard, and short of driving or calling around to every market every day or two to check on produce arrivals, I’m not sure how best to plan the remaining dishes. Because Sarah’s awesome, she surprised me the other day with something: she’d compiled all remaining recipes into a 4-page spreadsheet, broken into seasons and outlining all ingredients and equipment I’ll need from here on out. I think my next step is to cross-reference all the ingredients into another sheet with calendar months, so I know on any given day what dishes are reasonable to shop for.

We both agree that the Wild Bass dish might be my Everest.

Incidentally, I’ve also spent some time doing a similar treatment for another project that I intend to try at some point…



Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Hannah says:

    Just wanted to say that Monterey Market in Berkeley always has a huge selection of mushrooms and had keffir limes a couple of months ago when they were in season. Give them a call- it might make that Wild Bass less daunting.

    • Allen says:

      Hey cheers hannah! Yeah, their mushroom selection is pretty full-on; it might even be better than berkeley bowl’s.

  • Katie says:

    It’s wonderful that you’ve cooked your way through so much of the book already, but I have to say that I’m going to be sad when it’s all over. It’s been really fun reading here. (Though, I guess by the looks of your spreadsheets, you’ll have to cycle through all the seasons again to complete everything.)

    I’ve looked at The Family Meal a couple of times at the bookstore. I’m still trying to decide whether this is the time to really dive into it.

    • Allen says:

      Heh, that’s incredibly lovely of you to say Katie; I too will feel pretty unsure what to do with myself if/when I manage to complete all of this. If it’s consolation, though, I’m feeling confident that despite my absolute best efforts, I’m still probably close to two years away from that. 🙂 This feels a little like running through mud.

      The Family Meal is kinda interesting to me mostly from the planning standpoint; I’m kinda surprised and fascinated at how absolutely planned everything was. And it’s a nightly thing with me: getting to around 4pm and thinking “Dang, what am I gonna make for dinner?” and scrambling around. Not that I dislike that, but I’m curious what differences planning out every single dinner for a straight month would offer. Given how hard I’ve found planning for this stuff to be, I figure it might be a good exercise for me to learn how to do that better.

      Also, apropos of nothing: I have a big fat sloppy man crush on David Foster Wallance now, thanks to you. After finishing “Consider The Lobster”, I read “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again” and loved it. His writing is just a pleasure to read.