Thursday, September 13, 2007
I have this tiny little food-related addiction, aka a passion for pottery. To me, sliced tomatoes look more delicious when served on a green majolica platter, madeleines more evocative of France when piled onto a Quimper plate, even olives more appealing in a little terra cotta tapas dish.
Amongst my favorite pieces are the fruit and vegetable inspired creations of Rhode Island potter Barbara Eigen, particularly her signed work from the 70s and 80s.
Here her fennel pitcher holds breadsticks and the little fennel-heart dish contains a roasted red pepper dip.
The driftwood-grey walls of my beach house kitchen work well (she said, modestly) with the majolica's matte finishes. Here a much-loved radish platter hangs near a similarly-sized row of Eigen-depicted asparagus. I know she produced corn cob platters around the same time, and although I haven't been able to locate one yet, I SHALL.
The rhubarb platter is huge, more than twice the size of the radish cluster and has a ditinguished provenance. For years it resided in the kitchen of baker extraordinaire Flo Braker -- San Francisco Chronicle columnist and author of outstanding baking books. (I cannot imagine anyone who cares even minimally about pastry-making not owning Flo's "The Simple Art of Perfect Baking.")
Every time I entered Flo's kitchen I would glance at this platter and remind her that I expected it to be left to me in her will. One day we were to meet for lunch at an elegant restaurant. I was already seated when Flo walked through the dining room with this big chunk of pottery tucked beneath her arm. She plunked it down in front of me and said, "Now please stop hoping I'll die."
I've treasured it ever since and feel sure Flo now will live to at least 110.