“There is a prevailing theory that we need to know much more than we do in order to feed ourselves well. It isn’t true. Most of us already have water, a pot to put it in, and a way to light a fire. This gives us boiling water, in which we can do more good cooking than we seem to realize.

Our culture frowns on cooking in water. A pot and water are both simple and homely. It is hard to improve on the technology of the pot, or of the boil, leaving, when it comes to this particular technique, nothing for the cookbook and cookware industries to sell.

The pot was invented 10,000 years ago, and a simmering one has been a symbol of a well-tended hearth every since. I don’t mean to suggest that now that you have been reminded of the age and goodness of a pot of water, you start boiling everything in your kitchen, but that instead of trying to figure out what to do about dinner, you put a big pot of water on the stove, light the burner under it, and then, as soon as it’s on its way to getting hot, start looking for things to put in it. Once you do, you will have dropped yourself, in a single gesture, directly into the middle of cooking a meal, jostled by your faith and will a few steps closer to dinner…”