Having dinner at the house of friends of friends, I go to use the guest bathroom. I turn on the light and see three Peking ducks hanging from the shower rod. ''Oops,'' says the hostess. ''I forgot to tell you that I dry my ducks in there.'' ''Weird,'' says my husband later. ''What's weird about it?'' I ask.
My friend Marla goes to an elderly neighbor's wake and samples the home-baked goodies everyone has thoughtfully brought. ''I'm so sorry,'' Marla murmurs to the bereaved widower—and, before she can stop herself, adds, ''Could I have the recipe for the pecan pie?''
I stop off at the local farmers' market for a few ripe tomatoes and wander out an hour later with purple Peruvian potatoes, pattypan squash, green beans, basil, red onions, blackberries, gooseberries, fresh corn, a yellow watermelon, three cucumbers, and an assortment of tomatoes: yellow cherry, beefsteak, and big boy.
It could be sex or heroin or Joan Collins novels—but it's something far worse. It's pot roast and clafoutis and fried calamari and mango sorbet. I'm a woman who cooks too much—and the condition is almost impossible to kick. How can anyone be expected to go cold turkey from the one addiction that actually includes turkey?
I have two mandolines. I make my own bread crumbs. I belong to the Potato of the Month Club. I once forced my husband to drive five hours out of the way so we could eat at Chez Panisse. My daughter doesn't know that applesauce comes in a jar.
I'm beyond saving—but I can spot early warning signs in others. Like these:
**1. **You can't speak French, Catalan, or Cantonese, but you can read a menu in all of them.
**2. **You truly care about the difference between a stew and a pan roast, a duff and a dowdy, and a trifle and a fool.
**3. **You'll spend hours looking through cookbooks for the perfect couscous recipe.
**4. **You tape the Food Network.
**5. **You don't see the point of visiting a country that doesn't have good food when you can visit one that does.
**6. **You've never missed a meal except for when you had a stomach virus.
**7. **You occasionally take pictures of the inside of your refrigerator.
**8. **You make your own mayonnaise even if the recipe only calls for ½ cup.
**9. **You'll never forget your first pesto.
**10. **If you had to choose between a new pantry or a new bathroom, you'd probably pick the pantry. Unless you need someplace to dry your ducks.