Merry Christmas, folks, from Marion Post Wolcott and me. I hope that your holidays have been (and will be) filled with joy.
You're probably wondering what this photo has to do with Christmas. Not much, honestly, besides the fact that Wolcott, one of my favorite photographers*, made it on Christmas Day, in 1938. But this handsome young man and I do have something in common. We're both cooking on Christmas.
Marion Post Wolcott: The cook on a fishing boat in Charleston, South Carolina, peeling potatoes for Christmas dinner. 1938. [Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives. Click on the image to see a larger version.]
Cooking, as we all know, can be an act of love, especially when it involves a holiday meal. I'm willing to bet that our Charleston cook felt something special when he was preparing Christmas dinner for the men he worked with. In my case, I'll be preparing a mess of greens for a dinner at my church later this afternoon. The recipe (which includes kale, bok choy, ginger, garlic, hot peppers, and lime) will remind me of the long-lost friend who showed it to me. As I'm cooking, my mind will inevitably turn to my fellow parishioners, who mean so much to me.
*You might not know it from this particular photo, which is a simply a nice character study, but Wolcott was an extraordinarily sophisticated photographer. Her photos were beautiful, sometimes witty, often powerful, and always deeply humane. They were also capable of carrying a tremendous amount of information about social, political, and economic structure of the America of her day. She's long overdue for a reassessment.