The Anatomy of a Meal

It begins with a few sketches. Not physical drawings, but culinary ideas thrown down on paper — or in this case, a Microsoft Word document on the computer.

I’m speaking of my annual New Year’s Eve dinner, in which my wife and I host up to a dozen friends — many of them the same for more than a decade — and present a dinner of anywhere from eight to 12 courses.

Matsutake mushroom duxelles for course #5

Matsutake mushroom duxelles for course #5

The planning begins with a consideration of the time of year, and what sorts of things I have on hand or might be likely to find at the market. For example, I’ve usually just returned from my mother’s house in Sonoma, and often come back with pounds of prime wild mushrooms — as I did this year. More

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