Monday, July 21, 2008


In my past existence, I had a notebook fetish. I did a lot of project based traveling, and each trip had its own notebook - a lifeline of everything from expenses and coworkers' hotel room numbers to daily lists of necessary tasks. I still find these notebooks, tucked in corners. They are virtually useless now, but each time I find one, bent and broken from being shoved in pockets, I find it difficult to get rid of it. For a month, each one was my life. I may not remember the faces of those people, or the meanings behind my own shorthand mutterings, but there it is, that month of my life.

Notebooks have a different meaning in my life now. They are no less crucial. Perhaps they mean even more because now they live on, potentially long after me. Now, they are my recipes. Each job has had a different notebook, and what I put in them was a direct reflection not only of me, but of the person I worked for.

Monsieur Le Chef never required that I have a notebook, he gave me free range of his own. I made one anyway, pocket sized. The cover is gone from repeated use. The recipes we used all the time were at the front, strange seasonal and experimental ideas were at the back. The recipes themselves are just lists, the barest notes on process. I refer to them regularly.

My most recent notebook is in pristine condition. It did not fit in my pocket. Each recipe is categorized by type, and lists not only the ingredients but also extraordinarily detailed ("Three sheet pans, lined with paper, pan spray around edges") notes. The chef would check our notebooks regularly to see if we were writing down each detail, and even told my coworkers that my promotion had been in part based on the quality of my notebook. I care about maybe three of the recipes in this book.

Then there is my home book. It is not pocket sized. I've copied over all the important recipes, and have that first notebook tucked in the side pocket. It has my own recipes in it, sketches, plating notes, notes of inspiration. Inside the cover I tucked a photograph. It's not my own, and one of a series of three showing a flowering branch with varying levels of focus. A standard to reach for.

I started a new book this week. It's pocket sized. I'm trying to figure out how to balance the characteristics of the other notebooks. If I can do that, it will really mean something.