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The Library

August 6, 2012

You can’t check out a basket of peaches at the library.

I’m a proud card carrying member of the library who regularly takes out books and tries really hard to return them on time.  When there were proposed cuts to Toronto’s library system, I joined up the cause to stop the cuts, writing impassioned, intelligent (if I do say so myself) letters to the city arguing why libraries are crucial for the public good. Growing up in Cleveland (where the library system is dubbed the People’s University), I still remember going to the library with my older brother to get my first library card. I remember signing my name really carefully in cursive on the back of the card, thinking that this card is really important and I have to do a good job signing my name. And I remember the first time I used that card. I just couldn’t believe I could take piles of books home with me! For free! Every week when I was a kid after I got that magic card, I was at the library getting more books or just cruising around the stacks picking up any book that caught my eye and trying to get up the courage to check one of those romance novels out with the saucy cover.

I work right around the corner from the Toronto Reference Library. With my library supporting and library loving pedigree, I’m surprised it took six long months before I stepped foot into the place. For half a year, I walked past the library every day and barely gave it a glance. I just didn’t see what I would do there. It’s a reference library, you can’t take the books out. I imagined that the place was full of people using the wifi in a climate-controlled environment and retired folks doing crossword puzzles and reading encyclopedias…to help them with their crossword puzzles.

I was doing some online research on semifreddo and just wanted a decent source on the recipe. After getting frustrated with what I couldn’t find online, I looked at my own very slim selection of Italian cookbooks. None of them had anything on semifreddo. Mid sulk, it dawned on me that I worked right around the corner from a giant library where I could research semifreddo in proper books. The library to the rescue! When the lunch hour hit the next day at work, I tore out of the office and headed to the library. Cookbooks are on the third floor. I bounced up the stairs and planned on finding the cookbook section on my own even though I could have a librarian quickly point me in the right direction. I wanted to savour the anticipation. After combing the aisles, I hit jackpot. It’s a generous selection of cookbooks and a lot of serious tomes, not at all the same varieties found at my local branch. There were lots of Italian cookbooks. I picked the most promising ones and carried my prized stash of books over to a table and plopped down, eagerly flipping through the pages. I was so excited to be there with my pile of Italian cookbooks that I didn’t even mind that the guy sitting across from me smelled really bad. Best lunch hour ever.

After all that talk about semifreddo, you’re ready for the semifreddo recipe. It’s not happening in this post. This was a bit of a tease but don’t worry, semifreddo is up next! With peaches! Yum! Hopefully that sneak peak will earn your forgiveness.  Where I was going with this library story is that while I was doing my semifreddo research, I came across this suggestion on what to do with a peach from Elizabeth David, the much respected British cookery writer whose Italian Food (Knopf, 1954) introduced Italian cooking sensibilities to Britain in the 1950’s.

Into your glass of white wine after luncheon slice a peeled yellow peach. Leave it a minute or two. Eat the peach and then drink the wine.

This is way easier than making a semifreddo. Really, it’s easier than most things that aren’t half as enjoyable. You don’t even have to peel the peach (I didn’t). Feel free to drink the glass of wine before luncheon not after. Or this would do perfectly well before or after dinner, too. Or you could just skip the meal all together and have the glass of wine (or two) with the peach.

I’ll be practicing these different approaches to Elizabeth’s recommendation while I prep my next post.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. August 7, 2012 7:23 am

    With all due respect for Elizabeth David … putting peaches in a glass of wine (with the addition of sugar very often too) is an old old Italian tradition. Sometimes, an Italian version of cognac is used too.

    • August 7, 2012 8:20 am

      Thanks Josephine! I’ll try it next time with a bit of sugar and with some Italian cognac if I can track it down.

  2. Heather permalink
    August 7, 2012 7:35 am

    What’s the cooking section of the reference library like? Are they all specialty books? BTW, the Toronto Public Library is the best discovery ever. Great post!

    • August 7, 2012 8:21 am

      It’s quite good. It’s at least three tall stacks of cookbooks. There are a lot of ‘expensive’ large editions there. Like the big reference cookbooks that you don’t usually find at the local branch. There’s a whole nutrition/food/health section to. You should check it out!

  3. August 7, 2012 9:57 am

    wow–how did I never think of the reference library for cookbooks–and the The Cookbook Store is right across the street is you must go spend money or make a wish list.

    Did you know Thomas Keller is coming to speak on October 30th–there is a sign-up list for tickets at the Cookbook store–just FYI. It is not cheap–I think $75 but includes his new book.

    Great post as always!

    • August 7, 2012 10:30 am

      i know! I was going to the cookbook store on my lunch hour to browse but always feeling like i’m sullying the books. and then the library is right there! where i can browse to my heart’s content and not feel bad. AND they’ll even reshelve the books for you! Yay library!


  1. A Super Peachy Semifreddo « Food Anthology

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