“Like all young men I set out to be a genius, but mercifully laughter intervened.”
– Lawrence Durrell, The Alexandria Quartet
Dionysus was certainly not a Catholic. He took far too much pleasure in wine, food, dance, sex, and, well, pleasure itself. Besides, if we’re going to get devilish about the details, he swaggered into the human imagination long before Catholicism was even a whisper of a thought. Nevertheless, much good writing begins with a confession so I’m merely stealing from the greats when I enter that dark metaphorical box.
My particular disclosure will not come as a surprise to those of my dear readers who’ve had the faith and fortitude to follow me from blog to blog. First there was Fifty-Two Feasts, with the ambitious goal to prepare, host, and enjoy fifty-two meals over the course of fifty-two weeks. It was an absorbing endeavor and one that occupied my energies during an otherwise desultory, drifting sort of year. Yet the mental and material cost concocting elaborate meals for friends, relatives, and anyone else who could be lured to the table, eventually took its toll and I regretfully waved farewell to that undertaking.
Then came my evangelical phase in the form of a blog called Grub & Grist: the art of a working kitchen. Here I worked myself into a frenzy of missionary zeal, anxious to spread the gospel of do-it-yourself cookery. The aim was to overwhelm my readers with the joys of homemade sourdoughs, pickles, and chutneys, persuading them to forage berries, brew beer, and generally break the shackles of our cosseted lives and corporate dependence. Unfortunately, I didn’t take into account the limitations of venturing back to the woods while living in the heart of London. The time and equipment it takes to properly preserve food, skin rabbits, and make wine are considerable. And to be honest, the whole business started to feel a bit silly, like playing with dolls when you’ve begun to outgrow the fantasy.
That is not to suggest that I’ve stopped feasting or baking bread, in fact I am dedicated to both. But I no longer host meals like a sort of culinary fascist administering a regimen of banquets to her bloated victims. And although I enjoy preserving fruit and baking pork pies, I no longer have illusions about these efforts. They are amusing hobbies. But frequently they are also a major, time-consuming pain in the ass—entertainment for eccentric graduate students.
Yet there is a thread knitting these dead ends together—a resilient, golden thread—and that is an enduring love of food. And it is this essential impetus that brings me back to the beginning, to a simpler blog with a simpler goal. Instead of a culinary marathon or reenactments of an 18th century farmhouse, I’m going back to basics: Lunch with Dionysus is a blog about food. It is a celebration of taste and pleasure, cooking and eating, feasts and friends. Like Dionysus himself, it is a dichotomous creature—at once wild and cultivated, bitter and sweet, sober and silly—yet always dedicated to the good, delicious life.