Friday, February 7, 2014

RFC is the man we need.

A few months ago I read The Supper of the Lamb: A Culinary Reflection by Robert Farrar Capon, and knew before I'd got halfway through the book that I'd want to write a series of posts on this man's extraordinary perspective. But then the Nativity Fast arrived, and it was unhelpful during that period to focus on food and its delights, so I put off the project until the new year, which for me seems to have begun in earnest only this month.

At the speed I customarily do anything, if I begin now I still won't finish before Lent has arrived, but I am going to start anyway. For me the recipes and food itself are not the main thing in Capon's book, and there are parts that tie in very well with transcendent aspects of food and even with fasting.

His thoughts and words are often so charming in themselves, I might not always have anything to add to the quotes I share. But the topics collaborate with a couple of other books that I find very provocative as well, so I'm hoping to bring more writers into the discussion. In the blog titles I will refer to Robert Farrar Capon as RFC so as to make room there for words other than his long name. 

Though the first chapter starts right off with a list of ingredients, for me the recipes included in the book serve primarily to illustrate and demonstrate the author's philosophy and love. He was an Episcopal priest who wrote other books as well, but this is the first one I have met, and I just now discovered that he died last fall, probably when I was just coming to the end of The Supper of the Lamb.

Also in the first chapter, he answers critics who might disregard him because he is not a professional cook, by pointing out that amateur is not exactly the same thing as non-professional. And he clarifies here at the outset that he is, more than anything, a Lover:
The world may or may not need another cookbook, but it needs all the lovers -- amateurs -- it can get. It is a gorgeous old place, full of clownish graces and beautiful drolleries, and it has enough textures, tastes, and smells to keep us intrigued for more time than we have. Unfortunately, however, our response to its loveliness is not always delight: It is, far more often than it should be, boredom. And that is not only odd, it is tragic; for boredom is not neutral -- It is the fertilizing principle of unloveliness.

In such a situation, the amateur -- the lover, the man who thinks heedlessness a sin and boredom a heresy -- is just the man you need.
 And I ask you, with an intro like that, how can I not love him?

11 comments:

melissa said...

Yes, a thousand times, yes. I've read it. Love it (and him).

Anna Yager said...

I fell in love with that book probably 35 years ago. I checked it out of our local library multiple times. By the time I had enough money to buy books it was off my radar. How wonderful to find out that it's still in print!

gretchen said...

my husband gave me this book decades ago when we were first married. loved it then; love it now. i'm delighted that it is finding new appreciation. it's a delight.

Martha said...

Thank you for the recommendation! ♥ I will have to find a copy of this book for myself.

Gumbo Lily said...

He IS the man we need! I'm looking forward to your commentary of this book and the man.

wayside wanderer said...

Indeed! I've never read his writing but love what you have shared.

Thistle Cove Farm said...

Gretchen, it is a delightful intro, I'm off to search for the book. BTW, I've never understood people who say they are bored; doesn't that say more about them than they'd, perhaps, wish known?

Emily J. said...

I'm motivated to look for it too - need some inspiration in the kitchen and the heart!

Anita said...

Just the name of the book is poetic. I will have to see if our library has it.

M.K. said...

I'm embarrassed to admit that Adam read the entire book when it was leant to us, but I read only snippets. Now I will have to find it and read it again ... at some point. Meanwhile, I will thoroughly enjoy the quotes you post and your insights into the book and the man. He does sound intriguing! In a way, the best part of a book like that is the gradual revealing of the writer himself, and how fascinating one personality can be, one mind. Thanks :)

Amanda Sexton said...

Boredom is a REAL enemy and should be uprooted as quickly as possible. Love this post, and I am ordering the book. Sounds fascinating.