Sunday, April 13, 2014

James Salter / Life is Meals

Life is Meals
by James and Kay Salter

OUR HOUSE IN ASPEN, Colorado, dated back to the mining days, and the kitchen was small—about ten feet by twelve—with not much counter space and a worn floor, but it was cozy and comfortable to be in. The dishes were kept in a wooden display case, and the pantry was a shallow closet with no door.

It was in this kitchen that we began cooking together when we moved into the house in about 1976. Neither of us had had much cooking experience, and there was no real decision to do it, it just happened naturally. We cooked side by side or back to back if necessary, following recipes, James Beard’s or Mireille Johnston’s, which were among our early favorites.

The dining room was equally small and almost a part of the kitchen. It had a fireplace and a large framed mirror on one wall. Another wall was three shaky windows looking out onto the street and often on snow pouring down or, in the summer, light that lasted until ten in the evening. The early dinner parties were for friends or people who had come to town. Aspen was easygoing in those days. The streets had only been paved a few years before. Dogs were full-fledged citizens of the town.

As individuals, Jim and Kay Salter are remarkable; as a couple they embody an inspired domesticity evident in their book of days, Life Is Meals, which combines culinary, literary, and personal lore in a companionable celebration of life. Jim’s other books include the novels Light Years, A Sport and a Pastime, andAll That Is (2013), as well as the indelible memoir, Burning the Days. Kay’s plays include Yr. Obedient Servant and Someone. Jim and Kay collaborated previously on a book about the Louvre, written in dialogue. The couple divides their time between homes in Colorado and on Long Island.

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