Sunday, December 17, 2006

Deval's Sapid Humanity

In the post-election follow-up to last March's NECN profile, the Boston Globe's Lisa Wangsness expanded slightly on the governor-elect's love of things culinary. Deval cooks, he's good at it, and it was a trump card with girls -- helping him win wife Diane.

This is not news. It is women's-service-magazine stuff. If you'd like the earlier light-weight piece from the series trying to humanize the candidates, click over to here for the transcript.

So who cares and why? Well, I do for one.

There are things I do badly or worse, like singing, dancing, playing musical instrument... I had a brief, very brief set of high-school appearances in the Even Dozen Minus Six jug band. It included five real musicians and me. I passed by playing kazoo, jug and jaw harp, as befit my talent level.

However, I can and do cook. Like Deval, I grew up cooking in a single-parent (mom) household. Unlike his were he did it to ensure decent meals, I did it because I liked it and was good at it. My older sister had none of the passion for cooking that I did. From elementary school, I could look in the pantry and fridge, and then do right by us all. Our mother worked and my love of and skill with food made evenings easier and more pleasant.

So, I think it does make a difference that our incoming leader is, as my chef friends are wont to call it, a good cookie. It's rather like Lenny Bruce used to say about presidential couples and sex -- he could imagine the Eisenhowers, but Dick and Pat Nixon? Never. Likewise, can you see the old pale peacock, Willard Romney, shopping and then doing all the dirty work to serve a houseful of hungry buddies?

So for Deval, it's more like Ms. Frizzle -- "Take chances, make mistakes, get messy." That is what cooking is about. We can see him with the creativity and organic joy in getting so basic, in pleasing guests, in sustaining his family, in making the ordinary ingredients into the social lubricants of a memorable evening.

Before we get too crazy, let's recall a few things. First, he is now a very rich lawyer married to another of the same. He has a kitchen with God's ovens and ranges, as well as the perfect tool, pot or pan for every dish. I did quite well in my early 20s with a single lidded sauce pan and one saute pan with a tiny West Village stove. I am sure he could too.

And for crying out loud in a bucket, as the Pat Greenhouse pic in today's article showed, at least for the local rag, he cooked wearing a necktie! What's with that? Ms. Frizzle wouldn't have done that. Unless he intends to wipe his hands on or blow his nose in the tie, it's trouble waiting to happen. We hope this doesn't indicate that he has so many ties that he tosses one away when it gets a splatter.

We could easily extrapolate into areas that may not be relevant at all. How many analogies could we draw between cooking and politicking?
  • Deval takes what he has gathered and finds, to make the useful from it.
  • He cleans up after himself, simultaneously creative and efficient.
  • He transforms the existing into the extraordinary.
  • Blah blah.
For now, it is enough that this is a long-overdue human governor. His cooking goes well with his attitude of listening and getting opposing parties to work together. We promise, however hard it will be, to leave the cooking analogies out of this.

If Deval wants a guided tour of the Haymarket, I'll do that. I'll swap recipes with him too (although I won't do tortured baby cows). Knowing that his love of and skill in the kitchen is not some PR stunt is very endearing. Now, I just have to get invited to his table.

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Anonymous said...

He cooks in a tie?

massmarrier said...

What do you make of that?

--He was just finishing, going back and forth from kitchen to guests, and didn't expect to be doing anything very messy?
--He's really, really fastidious and doesn't make messes?
--He was showing off for the Globe photog?