Has it been almost 20 years since you first read my recipe for Spaghetti for the Single Person in Paul Doiron’s “A Maine Writers’ Cookbook”? You might recall that at the time I promised Maine gourmet friends that my recipe for rolled oats would be published in “A Maine Writers’ Cookbook II.” We have not seen “Cookbook II,” perhaps because the only people to buy the first one were the 30 or 40 Maine writers who contributed to it. Even Stephen King’s mouth-watering recipe for Ghoul Lash didn’t push sales past his anticipated million mark.

One might well ask if anyone now reads a cookbook in a world where recipes are discovered and exchanged online. Because my wife makes the best fish chowder I’ve ever eaten, I will share her secret: Marsha boils potatoes and then cooks them again with fish in milk. A spoonful of butter adds a skim of yellow to the top.

Would you believe that publishing this recipe for fish chowder on Facebook generated a firestorm of commentary from Maine’s most articulate chefs? Only Faye was satisfied to try Marsha’s recipe and let it go. Each and every chef had to tweak it. Creative suggestions for improvement included adding salt, thyme, salt pork or onion – or substituting hashish oil for the milk.

Does this indicate that Mainers are now more likely to get excited over their culinary preferences than they do over their politics – perhaps because food still matters in Maine?

While in the heat of verbal battle, Portland’s Mark Usinger replied, “I’m not sure I understand your anti-onion crusade. What did onions ever do to you?”

Cynthia said: “My waitress asked me if I wanted some Tabasco sauce for my eggs. I’d rather eat lint. Why does food have to have hot, spicy ingredients in everything now? Chipotle sauce, pepper jack cheese …”

I agree with Cynthia and can identify with the man – was it Howard Keel? – in the old movie who went into the local hotel and asked for a meal. When it was placed in front of him, he asked Jane Powell for a bottle of ketchup. She said, “My stew can stand on its own two feet.” He married her.

You’re right. There are unimaginable culinary delights in store for those who can get past my fish chowder and rolled oats. Professor Paul Freedman, a medieval historian at Yale whom I complimented for his verbal portraits of the idyllic Chilperic-Fredegunda court, sent me his “Ten Restaurants That Changed America.”

My eyes opened wide when I read the chapter on the California restaurant Chez Panisse. Did you know that there is nothing that some people won’t eat if most of us can’t afford it? Would you smack your lips over “le sabot de chèvre grillé” if you knew what it was?

That said, for over 50 years I have eaten rolled oats for breakfast every day I could get near a stove. It was never necessary to wash a dish because, as a single man, I got in the habit of drinking it out of the pan.

When it comes to making rolled oats, I’m a chef. How do you know when you’ve moved from the cook to the chef category? Cooks are quantitative people. When the spaghetti water was boiling, you’d add long strands of spaghetti, taking care that it didn’t stick through the holes in the colander. You’d set the timer for 12 minutes. At the ding of the bell, you’d lift out the colander and dump the steaming spaghetti onto your plate.

As an unmarried man, it was only natural that I should eat spaghetti every day for dinner and perhaps supper for 20 years. It was easy to cook and required no dish washing, because you’d rinse out your plate and leave it on the counter and use it later.

We are talking about rolled oats, and I mention spaghetti only to prove my point: Without the timer, I would have overcooked it or undercooked it. I was a spaghetti cook but never became a spaghetti chef.

So although I’m still a quantitative person when it comes to very slowly adding seven heaping spoonfuls of oats into the boiling water, and although I count to three while pouring milk on the finished product before eating it, I do not set the timer and stir the oats for a determined time. I know that I’m a rolled oats chef because, just by feeling the texture of the boiling oats with my spoon, I know when they’re done.

Marsha thinks I’m selling myself short. She says, “I’ve seen you make toast and boil an egg.” And lest you accuse me of being provincial in my diet, the next time you visit I’ll break out the morel mushroom crostino and anise hyssop fritters.

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at his website:

www.thehumblefarmer.com/MainePrivateRadio.html