Monday, September 21, 2015

Soil, Security, and Love

Mary Francis Kennedy (MFK) Fisher, arguably the most passionate and important American food writer, wrote many lovely little books (my favorite of which is the 1941 Consider The Oyster). In the forward to The Gastronomical Me (1943) she writes,

"It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and       mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens           that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one…." (353)

We know this. Food is not just love (as in our favorite childhood meal). It is security—from famine, from displacement, from exile.
For me, I see no line—a paper thin line at best, if there is a line—between our stories and our security. We need to be safe to tell our stories. If we tell our stories we increase our changes of safety.

When we love, deeply and wholly, we tell stories and they protect our love. They let it grow. We tell those stories over food, softly, or with laughter like bear hugs. Or we tell those stories despite hunger, despite loneliness and longing. This is what Mary Francis means.
A couple weeks ago, at the Garlic Fest in Vermont, I acquired pounds and pounds of papery, stinky hearts. They’re roasting right now, and they’re turning my slipcovers to scratch-and-sniff Olive Gardens. Romanian Red, Music and Hungarian Purple. Garlic confit, o as if there were any other name for love.

Garlic, o garlic, the apostrophe of the kitchen. Garlic is the occasion where I try to explain how I see soil and stories as “mingled and entwined that [I] cannot straightly think of one without the others…. And it is all one.” These soil-eggs, these stinky love-provers, these self-perpetuating seeds….
For me, the soil is not far from her holy trinity of Food, Security and Love. When I write about orange wine, or black garlic lemonade (pictured above), it’s all mediations of Food-stuffs, and companionship. But it is more about the soil that supported those grapes and those lemons.
It is a call to all of us that we keep our soil safe from many of our practices. And it is a call to keep everyone on all soils safe. Borders are bullshit.

When I write about the books I’ve read, I’m thinking about the spaces they make, and what those spaces teach us about how to treat our own places. How we can learn to love better, and read our food like we read books.
Show me someone without a story about garlic and I’ll show you someone that hasn't been listened to, carefully, in a very long time.

The intersection of things matter. It scares me how much intersectionality seems to disappear as we move into seasons of debates and fights.

 Aquariums and mermaid purses are how I write about securing that which we love. William Shatner is where I write about digging into my own history, and considering what good digging does.

Beautiful vinegars came home with me, too. And a tiny dish (for jewelry or garlic?) that had traveled back from Romania, here to me. Proper balsamic carries the story of its soil and its barrels in its taste. It is a perfect poem. Please hand me a spoon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Dirty Dreams

Listening to other people’s dreams is banal, unless you love them. It's a rude statement, but one that is usually true.

Neither science nor philosophy will never satisfactorily figure out what happens when we dream, and why. That’s a bet I’d stake my tomatoes on. And I’m okay with that.

Until then, I like what art can give us to understand dreams. Consider the three case studies of: 1) Corporate Affairs, by Nicole Patino; 2) David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, and 3) Pixar’s  Inside Out.

In a single (recent) week I have read Patino’s book, binge watched Twin Peaks (for the first time, I know, I know, I’m late to the party!), and saw Inside Out at the drive-in. They fit roll together in an interesting challah bread formation (and happy Rosh Hosanna and Yom Kippur to those of us observing in the Jew-ish way).

In Corporate Affairs, the setting is a company that does R &D on drugs that facilitate dreams that can then be analyzed for larger research projects. The drug and its corporate-body, ENCO (Elicitation of Nocturnally created Omens), is a mash-up of the drugs from Minority Report, The Cell and Total Recall. In this narrative, dreams give us missing information about history, ways of unlocking out present conditions and keys to unknown futures.

In Twin Peaks, on the other hand, dreams provide clues to a past crime, which then propel the narrative action. Agent Cooper’s dream is text-book David Lynch. Meaning it is creepy and actually dream-like. Cooper’s dream is a composite of clues relevant to the narrative of Laura Palmer’s murder.

Now, for the magical journey that is Inside Out, dreams are the mind’s way of processing the stuff that happened during the day based on lenses of formative memories and subjective identity markers. When they run amok, or into nightmare-land it is for our own good, based on the tiny, colorful, powers that be in our heads.

I have issues with dreams and nightmares. I relive scary things more often than not., and feel stuck in an edifice similar to a trade-show, card-board cut-out sumo-suit.  It can get  David Lynchy, and I wake up mad at the tiny, colorful, powers that be doing things in my head. I get frustrated that there doesn’t seem any purpose to unlock the present or future when I’m just repeating pasts.

I’ve taken drugs specifically to attack the undesirable dreams. Most recently, beta-blockers. They, allegedly, prevent the sleeper from having the physiological response to nightmares. Can have unwanted side-effects, such as crazy-low blood-pressure.

The FDA is exploring MDMA as a way of getting control of out of control nightmares (and PTSD, more specifically). Until fully approved, I’ve been exploring the therapeutic value of Tetris.

 Studies have shown that Tetris is a poor-man’s approximation of Eye Movement Reprocessing and Desensitization (EMRD) therapy (google and see what you find.). Tetris before bed makes my dreams less Twin Peaks-esq, and more open to the lucid-love proffered in Corporate Affairs.

I’d like to think I have a colorful team of pixar characters digging through the dirt in my head and planting dream-seeds of jasmine and honey…. But that appears not to be the case. So if your dreams have been bugging you, and you don’t want to skip right to drugs ("drugs are bad, m’kay?”), try 20 minutes of Tetris before bed. I'd love to know if it works for you. 

corporate affairs

p.s. I really want a proper a game-boy.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Dirty Books II.

It's that time of year again! I've hit the 100 mark for books for 2015. Celebrations of wine and gluten free desserts commence!

 I thought I'd do this post a little differently than Dirty Books I.

Let's get a little more metaphorical with the categories: Proper soil types!
(Full reading list, in order that they were read, follows at the bottom)

Our categories for these 100 Dirty Books are: clay, silt, sand, loam, organic soil, and mineral soil.

Clay Soil contains a lot of fine-grained natural rock materials that combines clay minerals with some other stuff. Clays are squishy depending on their water content and get hard, brittle and non-plastic when they dry. Clay is fascinating! It's either fun, or fragile depending on the conditions. And the perspective.

  •  Beowulf
  •  Invisible. Paul Auster
  •  Unremitting Entrance Janelle Adsit
  •  We'll Always Have Paris: Bradbury Ray
  •  Make Something Up: Stories You Can't Unread by Chuck Palahniuk

Silty Soil
The distinction between silt and clay varies by discipline. -Ologists call it "clay soil' based on particle size. Engineers call it "silty soil" based on the plastic properties of the clay particles in this particular soil. In other words, this is the low-brow on the list. Sorry engineers, by low-brow, I mean perfunctory reading. Reading just for the verb of it. Not to -ology a book.

  •  Blood Bones and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
  • Evil Eye by Joyce Carol Oates
  • Merles Door
  • Solar by Ian McEwan,
  • B is for Beer by Tom Robbins
  • Talk talk by T. C. Boyle
  •  The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins
  • Vagina A New Biography by Naomi Wolf
  • I Suck At Relationships so You Don’t Have to. by  Bethenny Frankel
  •  Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
  •  Dead Until Dark ~ Charlaine Harris (and the rest of the series, you True Blood lovers)
Sandy Soil
finer than gravel, coarser than silt, this soil has bunches of rock and mineral-bits in it. If the soil is more than 85%ish sand, then it's just sand. These are the books that had hidden bits in them that, for good mostly, got into my brain and made a pearl.

  • What We Talk About When We Talk about Love Raymond Carver
  • Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen. Marilyn Chin
  • St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves Karen Russell
  • Relish. Lucy Kinsley
  • The Sense of an Ending Julian Barnes
  • "Consider The Oyster" MFK Fisher
  •  My New American Life. Francine Prose
  • Jennifer Egan The Best American Short Stories 2014 

Loamy Soil 
This type has silt, sand and clay in roughly a 40 / 40/ 20 ratio. So 40% engineer-considered, 40% bits that irritate (to the end of pearls or blisters), and 20% plastic. These books are the nice loamy blends of all the things.
  • Eat, Drink, Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Food Politics
  • "Geek Sublime" Vikram Chandra
  •  the art of asking Amanda Palmer
  • Drinking Coffee Elsewhere ZZ Packer
  •  The First Bad Man Miranda July
  • Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules. Ed. David Sedaris
  •  Seeing Green: The Use and Abuse of American Environmental Images: Finis Dunaway

Organic Soil
What we talk about when we talk about soil is the skin of the earth. The organics in it keep it, and therefore us, alive. These are the books that made life worth reading in.

  • Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon: Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda
  • NOX by Anne Carson. depth and beauty in this elegy.
  •  Anne Carson's Red Doc>
  • A Guide to Being Born: Stories: Ramona Ausubel
  • The Feast of Love. Charles Baxter

  • Trigger Warning - Neil Gaiman
  • Milan Kundera «Life is elsewhere»
  • The Isle of Youth. Laura Van Der Berg

  • Book #101 Will be Nicole Patino's Corporate Affairs. Stay tuned for the review in a post soon....

    Here is my full reading list, in order that I read them. I couldn't be bothered with a proper bibliography. A proper bibliography is not the point. I highly suggest #22. That's why the second cake had 22 candles. (no one would help me blow out the 22 candles. So they got some birds.)

    1. Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon: Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda
    2. NOX by Anne Carson. depth and beauty in this elegy.
    3. The Best American Poetry 2013
    4. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway.
    5. Grendel. John Gardner
    6. Anne Carson's <Red Doc>
    7. jennifer Egan The Best American Short Stories 2014
    8. Fragile Things - Neil Gaiman
    9. Beowulf
    10. Eating Right in America: The Cultural Politics of Food and Health: Charlotte Biltekoff
    11. Smoke and Mirrors; Neil Gaiman
    12. Aesthetic Nervousness: Disability and the Crisis of Representation by Ato Quayson.
    13. Blood Bones and Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton
    14. Mardi Jo Link – Bootstrapper
    15. Eat, Drink, Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Food Politics
    16. "Geek Sublime" Vikram Chandra
    17. What We Talk About When We Talk about Love Raymond Carver
    18. Merle's Door
    19. Fifty Foods That Changed the Course of History (Fifty Things That Changed the Course of Histoy) by Bill Price
    20. Trigger Warning - Neil Gaiman
    21. Milan Kundera «Life is elsewhere»
    22. The Isle of Youth. Laura Van Der Berg
    23. Solar by Ian McEwan,
    24. T.C. Boyle / Wild Child and Other Stories
    25. Invisible. Paul Auster
    26. B is for Beer (Tom Robbins)
    27. Talk talk by T. Coraghessan Boyle
    28. Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen. Marilyn Chin
    29. St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell
    30. if i loved you, i would tell you this. Robin Black
    31. By Paul Auster - The New York Trilogy
    32. A Guide to Being Born: Stories: Ramona Ausubel
    33. The Feast of Love. Charles Baxter
    34. We'll Always Have Paris: Bradbury Ray
    35. Evil Eye by Joyce Carol Oates
    36. Charles Baxter 'Gryphon: New & Selected Stories'
    37. Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
    38. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere ~ZZ Packer
    39. Children Playing Before a Statue of Hercules. Ed. David Sedaris
    40. An Alphabet for Gourmets. MFK Fisher
    41. Saul and Patsy by Charles Baxter
    42. No One is Here Except All of Us By Ramona Ausubel
    43. How To Cook a Wolf. MFK fisher
    44. The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
    45. "Consider The Oyster" MFK Fisher
    46. The Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman
    47. Serve it Forth by MFK Fisher.
    48. Unremitting Entrance Janelle Adsit
    49. The First Bad Man by Miranda July
    50. The Soul Thief. Charles Baxter
    51. The Locavore's Dilemma
    52. After Birth: by Elisa Albert.
    53. Blessing The Hands That Feed Us by Vicki Robin
    54. As She Climbed Across the Table by Jonathan Lethem
    55. the art of asking amanda palmer
    56. The Fault in Our Stars. John Green
    57. The 100-Mile Diet. Smith and McKinnon
    58. Vagina A New Biography: Naomi Wolf
    59. I Suck At Relationships so You Don’t Have to. Bethenny Frankel
    60. No one belongs here more than you - Miranda July
    61. Bark by Lorrie Moore
    62. The Human Age. Acker
    63. Kill My Mother. Jules Feiffer
    64. 500 Acres And No Place To Hide..Susan McCorkindale
    65. Tropic of Capricorn Henry Miller
    66. Seeing Green: The Use and Abuse of American Environmental Images: Finis Dunaway
    67. Lila. Marilynne Robinson
    68. Relish. Lucy Kinsley
    69. It Must Have Been Something I Ate. Jeffrey Steingarten
    70. Haruki Murakami - The Strange Library
    71. Drivel, a collection of early works by Amy Tan, Chuck Palahniuk and Gillian Flynn.
    72. Golden Grove. Francine Prose
    73. Of Walking in Ice by Werner Herzog
    74. My New American Life. Francine Prose
    75. Veronica. Mary Gaitskill
    76. Still Life with Bread Crumbs. Anne Quindlen
    77. Mallory Ortberg's Texts From Jane Eyre.
    78. Can't We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir: Roz Chast:
    79. How to Become a Scandal: Adventures in Bad Behavior laura kipnis
    80. Men: Notes from an Ongoing Investigation by Laura Kipnis
    81. Dead Until Dark ~ Charlaine Harris
    82. Make Something Up: Stories You Can't Unread by Chuck Palahniuk
    83. The Best American Comics 2014
    84. Living Dead in Dallas~ Charlaine Harris
    85. Dear Husband. Joyce Carol Oates
    86. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
    87. The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins
    88. Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
    89. "The Gastronomical Me," MFK Fisher
    90. Dead To The World.Charlaine Harris
    91. A Changed Man. Francine Prose.
    92. Dead as A Doornail.Charlaine Harris
    93. All Together Dead.Charlaine Harris
    94. Definitely Dead. Charlaine Harris
    95. Profiles From The Kitchen. C A Baker-Clark
    96. From Dead To Worse.Charlaine Harris
    97. While Mortals Sleep. Kurt Vonnegut
    98. Dead and gone. Charlaine Harris
    99. San Miguel. T. C. Boyle.
    100. As They Were. MFK Fisher 
    65/100 came from my library. Support Local Libraries! 

    Friday, September 4, 2015

    Slovenia’s Soil (Orange Wine!)

    At a Wine and Dine for the Arts event, like 3 years ago, I remember—perhaps incorrectly—some teddy-bear-of-a-local legend of a sommelier talking about how he used to have wine with the family dinner as a youngin’. But it was mixed with tang, or orange soda, or something. Four years ago that is what I knew about Orange Wine.

    Fast Forward many life choices later, and I am out of my league in the rabbit hole of wine geekery. Meaning, I’m at a wine bar in Troy (you know which one I mean), and my lovely companion and I order the Orange Wine.

    Neither the waitress nor the Bar-keep had much to say in being able to explain the (fairly) expensive bottle were had ordered (rather ignorantly). And “no, thank you,” they didn’t want to try any of ours. Policy?       

    Orange wine is neither made of oranges, nor does it taste like them. It didn’t even look all that orange in the candle light (or the natural light. Yes we wandered into all kinds of light sources. We looked pretty drunk.).

    To imagine its color is to imagine the love child of Iron Man and the wind. Or, in the words of a the smartest vinophile that I know: “Orange Wine? That has had the hell oxidized out of it!” The skins also do special things. But learn about that on your own time.

    “Bow-legged” is that a way to describe a wine’s legs? They atrophied and stopped short, doing something strange on the way down the glass. No tannin structure. No Minerality. Cloudy, like an Unfiltered (but as I would learn the next day, not the same brain-pain).

    The wine was the opposite of cloying. My dictionary says the antonym for cloying is “clean,” but that’s not it. It was like Meade but *real Meade,* the kind made from fairies in tree holes (and would never give you cavities, being the nectar of something not of this earth).

    12.5%. It punches you in the nose, but the way a California alcohol bomb makes you shovel food in your face to chew through the zip. But it did change everything on my meat and cheese board into something no Red, White, Rose or Sparkling had ever done.

    When chorizo is too floral (like when flowers are too far into their life cycle and need to go to the compost bin?), and you eat it anyway (because you are fairly certain you are still far enough away from the human compost bin)? That too flowery nose on chorizo? Orange wine turned it into the nose on a good tequila.

    It turned the speck into sorbet. The fennel salami into a liquorices’ kiss. Pate into smoked butter. By which I mean “lardo,” by which I mean “I miss Italy.”  The cheese did other things, but I’ll leave that be. For now.

    So, as you sit down to rewatch all three seasons of Orange is the New Black (because you know you have a problem), seek out a bottle of Orange Wine.

    Piper would love it. Lines you can throw around in parlance:
    -“Orange is the New Malbec!,”
    -“Ruby Rosé ain’t got nothing on this,”
    -“This is like frenching a dandelion,” and most importantly,
    -“I’m so sorry I called your parole officer so I could finish the bottle. Trust no Bitch.”

    More about Slovenia and Orange Wine:  

    Where I had Orange Wine:

    Where you can find my buddy that knows everything about wine: