Several years ago my friend, Tony, and I agreed that we weren't going to subscribe to Gourmet any more. Mainly because we're both 51 years old old with elementary age children and it's pretty much a given...we won't be going anywhere anytime soon. And Gourmet (and Food & Wine, incidentally) do a LOT of travel stuff. So I went back to Cook's Illustrated, which I have always loved. It's full of recipes, but the gist of the magazine is Why? Why is that pie crust flaky and this one not? Why is that turkey crisp and this one flabby? (Funny...you could use those questions on a lot of your friends, too.)
I thoroughly enjoy the magazine and the covers are watercolor works of art. Breathtaking. And if you're not sucker enough to be subscribing, at the end of the year they take all the magazines, bind them together and sell you that. As a cookbook. Your magazines, in one place.
But that's okay, too because it's easier to keep up with one hardbound book than six magazines.
BUT THEN. Last week, they sent me a box. Well, I didn't just fall off the turnip truck and I KNOW there is a cookbook in there. Along with the Free Gift, as broadcast on the outside of the box. And if I OPEN that box, well, that baby is mine. No matter how much the book costs. Unless I want to rebox it, drive to the post office, stand in line behind ten people buying one stamp from the postmaster (using the STAMP MACHINE to lean on while they stand in line) and then swipe my card and fill out the label and fill out the other thing...and, let's just don't. I'll leave the box intact, write "Return To Sender" on it, in black marker, and the postlady can take it back.
Only I got stuck at tennis from 3:30 until six o'clock Thursday night and it was chilly. Too chilly to sit on the bleachers and talk, so I made an emergency liquor store stop, sent the kids into the tennis house for ice and water, mixed a toddy and...opened that box. And inside is a LOVELY cookbook, the best of international something. Some of the best ideas to never hit Center Star I've ever seen. So what's the problem?
YOU KNOW WHAT THE FREE GIFT IS? I fully expected another microplaner. I have three, in case you need one. It was a commerative coin, recognizing Antoine's in New Orleans. And I am not making that shit up.
A commerative coin. I think I can die happy now.