The Pleasure Is All Mine

You can lick your fingers. As I said, it's a messy meal. Just refrain from loud sucking noises. And as for drinking wine with your bird, hold the glass by the stem, as you should. Thank you. No, thank you, Suzanne Pirret, for reminding us that eating alone need not resemble a date with a carton of ice cream and a spoon or -- worse still -- doling out sections of a store-bought rotisserie chicken five nights in a row. Instead this graduate of the Cordon Blue School, having tempered her knowledge in the heat of professional kitchens on both sides of the Atlantic, offers a manual on "cooking for yourself, decadently." A multitude of excellent recipes to prepare and eat solo follows, each with an appropriate drink pairing and handy kitchen tips that could only come from classical training, such as turning an egg through a sieve to "leave the yuck part of the albumen behind." Starting with a rich steak au poivre with frites (a meal Pirret notes would be her last, if she happened to wind up on death row), Pirret progresses through easy, fresh reinventions of a variety of dishes to end with a simple, decadent bread and chocolate: a thin slice of bread, a slab of chocolate, olive oil, cocoa and a little fleur de sel. ("Eat with a knife and fork," she advises. My pleasure.) The fact that it's liberally sprinkled with amusing anecdotes on everything food-related, from making reservations in NYC (fuggedaboutit) vs. LA (easy, no one eats!) to proper table etiquette (related in truly uproarious fashion complete with, shall we say, salty language), makes it all the more delicious.

July 28: Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin eloped on this day in 1814.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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