I’ve learned that when you have to go around a room and introduce yourself by name and an interesting fact about yourself, it helps to be able to say, very casually, “I make paneer.” If you go on to explain that paneer is an Indian cheese, and you make it to use in some of your favorite curries, you will quickly see the room divide into two camps. One camp thinks you are crazy. The other wants to come to dinner.
In summer of 2008, at our neighborhood farmers' market, a man was beginning a cooking demonstration to promote his new cookbook, and the scent of sautéing garlic, ginger, and onion filled the air. My daughter, Cora, then two-years-old, was done with the market, having exhausted the thrill of buying her own carrot and tasting the cabbage leaves. We left, but I noted the book’s title.