Perhaps you’ve had a wonderful 2017; then again, you might be of the opinion that the year has been a bad one. I, as often as I can, try to remind myself that good and bad are intermingled, twined, eternally debating and by turns battling it out for dominance, good on top for a while, then losing to bad, which takes its place at the top for a time. Then there are those days and nights during which good and bad share the roost. Those might seem strange periods, but the wise among us know it’s aways that way.
I imagine 2018 will bring more of the same, as human years always have. Our minds either figure out how to assimilate and understand the dualities of good and bad, and stay above lazy despair or vapid elation, or fight against the bad, a struggle that — and these latter types of minds, in my opinion, never realize that their crusade for “their” good results in the killing of the self — is futile and cripples the struggler, often mortally.
The first day of a year, as arbitrary as that day might in actuality be, is a good time to decide which mind you want to have. It’s January 1, 2018, and I’m thinking of Edna Lewis, who had a great mind and soul. I’m thinking of her because Angela made A Very Good Chocolate Cake yesterday, and today I’m making cornbread. The recipes for both come from Lewis, a woman with whom I wish I had been able to share a table at least once, a beautiful woman with soul and spirit and grace and talent who conquered New York City with her food and hospitality. She also: made a dress for Marilyn Monroe; worked with Dorcas Avedon (Richard’s wife) as a dress copier; and, perhaps most famously, presided over the kitchen at Café Nicholson, where she served Truman Capote, Marlon Brando, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Diana Vreeland, and Marlene Dietrich, to name but a few of the many who found nourishment for their bodies and souls at her table. If you know Miss Lewis, celebrate her memory by creating something from one of her cookbooks. If you do know not know of her, now’s the time.
I’ve made A Very Good Chocolate Cake many times, and have enjoyed hearing from others who made it at my urging, or after reading this. I’ll go ahead and persuade you to make it, because it is nothing but good.