WAITING FOR DESSERT by Vladimir Estragon


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Chirruping chronicles of domesticity are not exactly the stock-in-trade of New York's Village Voice. But week after week a number of Voice readers turn straight to the autobiographical/gastronomical jottings of someone who calls himself Estragon. There is ordinarily a meal being cooked or eaten somewhere in the column, and usually things are polished off with a recipe. But what keeps the regulars coming back is the sobriquet-bedecked Estragon mÉnage: the Woman Warrior (wife), the Youngest Member (infant daughter), the Potato King and the Mad Baker (teenage sons by a previous marriage), and Anna the cat. The Beckett moniker notwithstanding, Estragon mostly suggests an amalgam of Doonesbury, Julia Child, and Erma Bombeck (or maybe Laurence Sterne). Messy noses and vegetable-garden gluts, broken toasters and slaughter-your-own-pig roasts, imitation eclairs and echt spring asparagus bobble about in a soup of beamish associations. A recipe for chicken VÉronique is a magnificent non sequitur to a string of lucubrations on the buying of napkins (""Lace, for instance, was out. The cognitive dissonance between lace and a tuna-noodle casserole is more than I could bear""); the departure of the Potato King for college occasions a review of the impossibility of kids' eating/cooking habits, followed by four recipes embodying various bits of family history. Unlike some collections of newspaper columns, this is at least as pleasant between the covers of a book as squashed in among the weekly mishaps. As for the recipes: they are mostly of a likably middlebrow and affordable stripe (if overcommitted to curry powder, wine, and very dried herbs), and appear designed to be eaten by real people. A special item, nonetheless, for (inescapably) a special taste.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1982
Publisher: Viking