I was cooking the other day, whipping up a mean lemon basil sauce for some pasta and sautéed vegetables when I had a realization. Inger, the character in Swedish Lessons most oft portrayed as completely insane, taught me how to make sauces from scratch. In fact, before I went to Sweden, while I knew how to follow recipes, I had no idea how to cook. Now, cooking is legitimately my favorite hobby. I’m passionate about it.
And I never wrote about that part. What a missed opportunity! To be fair, I am mostly self-/Cooks Illustrated-taught, but what Inger taught me in the kitchen truly sparked my interest. Not only do I unfairly deny her credit for this gift, think how well that might have fit into the story: A chapter on learning to make a roux, in which I encounter the magical science of heating fat, blending in flour, and the surprise that bursts forth when whisking in water or lemon juice or milk. Think how that would have aligned with the surprise of what was emerging in my own life when familiar ingredients blended together in an unfamiliar way. Ugh. It would have been great.
But it’s too late. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve edited that book now. Every time, I found additions and omissions that I simply could not believe I’d missed the last time. This is, in short, why releasing the book took longer than I imagined. I couldn’t let it go.
Swedish Lessons is, in essence, a story about how hard I find it to leave things. I guess it should come as no surprise, therefore, that I felt the same way about the book itself. Leaving things, ending things, walking away from things is hard. Even if the thing is bad for you, or you’ve been doting over it far too long, ending it means making a choice. It’s drawing a line, tacitly acknowledging that the thing is never going to get any better.
Deciding Swedish Lessons was really over was not easy, but what I learning during the time covered in the book made it possible. So perfect, lovely, beneficial roux imagery or no, it is done.*
See you, and it, tomorrow.
* If you want to mentally insert that roux scene into the book when you read it, please, feel free. Spoiler alert: IT’S A FANTASTIC SCENE.