The Call to Risk

We beg to differ with Cecil Beaton

Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.

Likely from his diaries and quoted at the end of the film Love, Cecil.

This is so enticing. But impracticable. The integrity of purpose and imaginative vision belong to the ordinary and the commonplace. Put more cayenne in the chilli? It might become inedible. Serve crackers and sardines as Gabrielle Hamilton does at Prune? If you plan on doing that don’t forget the cornichons and the Dijon mustard. They are integral to the dish. And top it off with a branch of parsley.

Be attentive to detail and soar.

It is tiresome to always be against.

It disturbs digestion unduly.

Cecil on food

“I get fancies about food from literature, not from cookbooks,” Cecil Beaton told Vogue’s “Second Fame” columnist Ninette Lyon in 1966. When he wasn’t walking on the wild side, the photographer, costume designer, bon vivant, and (sometimes acid-penned) diarist was enjoying the finer things in life. Ever class-conscious and not above salting his conversation with name drops, Beaton contrasted his culinary endeavors with those of his titled friends, telling Lyon, “I am not aristocratic enough to do simple food with inexpensive ingredients.”

Enjoy life. Cook. Dig in.

Be peasant enough.

And so for day 2648

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