Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sanke Pits, Food Memoirs, etc.


The bad news: the Greenpoint landlord obviously stole my KitchenAid and a big Le Creuset pot from the apartment during the move. The worst part? He claims a "strange black man" was seen in the building and probably took them. ("The sad thing is, that might fly in Warsaw," said my dad.) When the police were invoked, however, he allowed as how the black man might have dropped them in the upstairs apartment, and he'd look into it.

Other bad news: our smoke alarm goes off at the slightest hint of steam.

And more: I have gone mad. I mean, curled in a ball, screaming, night terror, stark raving mad. (Not 24/7, obviously.) Thinking of checking myself into Silver Hill bin. I seem better today but it's hard to say what will set me off. Some meds adjusted so hopefully that's doing it. The KitchenAid really started it. I was told by a medical professional (and is it worrisome that he has an AOL address - or comforting?) to try to go out of the apartment, so I went with Slim to a Francis Starlite show, but then he had to go scalp some tickets (don't ask) and I was left alone and I had a freak out and unfortunately a friend of ours found me cowering on a couch with terror in my eyes. I enjoyed the show, though.

(Slim also got a ticket for turnstile-hopping last night; or, rather, going in with someone for $2, as his card had just expired and a train was pulling into the station. Then his cab driver wouldn't play music because it was against his religion, so he sang him the first 15 minutes of the Koran instead.)


The Good News (not Christ-related):
"Django Reinhardt/ Sweet Georgia Brown" results in a solid Pandora station.

-I no longer dislike anyone, I find. As of this weekend, there were three people I was firmly convinced I despised, but by chance I ran into all of them on an epic walk through Brooklyn and found them to be uniformly delightful and misunderstood. This may be the madness talking, but it is very relaxing.

-I just finished Judith Jones' The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food, which I read on Eloise's recommendation. I wanted to wait until I finished it to comment and am glad I did. Jones is a - well, legendary cookbook editor hardly does her justice. She discovered or edited Julia Child, Edna Lewis, Madhur Jaffrey, Claudia Roden, Marcella Hazan, Marion Cunningham - essentially the better part of the American food revolution. I was initially put off by a couple of things: first the way she blithely addressed her relationship with her husband, who was married when they met and became involved. This is curiously common in food memoirs - think M.F.K. Fisher, Ruth Reichl - and I do understand that a sybaritic love of food in that era was already unconventional enough that throwing off the shackles of other conventions is perhaps of a piece. What I didn't care for was the way she glossed over it, while still alluding to it - it's all treated like a great adventure, and it can't have been. I mean, she's not really a memoirist, so I get giving the personal short shrift - and no characters are really brought to life as well as the food - but if you're going to address something, address it!

Then too, their utter obsession with food was, ironically, somewhat off-putting. I understand that for a certain generation, such pursuits were genuinely revelatory and transgressive, even, and perhaps it brings too many 21st century prejudices to the table to associate it with the status-conscious aestheticism of contemporary foodies.

I grew to really like the book towards the end, after all her major adventures in publishing. Don't get me wrong, all that publishing history's interesting, and it's always amazing to read about the era in which a young editor was given so much scope and power and people took such risks - what a contrast from today's publishing! - but far more poignant was the section after Jones' husband dies, when she finds her love of food a major comfort and means of forging connections. She gives a whole series of recipes for cooking alone which I found not just instructive, but interesting inasmuch as they illuminated the mental flexibility necessary for living alone. Food memoirs are tough; I read them obsessively, but rarely find one that truly works; it's hard to make the food seem important enough that it doesn't trivialize the life being described - or vice versa!

Okay, a lot to do - I have agreed to have my closet/self photographed for some web piece on stylish folks or somesuch, which will obviously require much misleading re-styling of both closet and person.

4 comments:

Bonnie said...

Only thing more obnoxious than unsolicited advice is unsolicited diagnosis, I know it, and yet, have casually developed a theory on your "madness."

Moving is extremely stressful for many, but extra stressful for you because you work at home. You used to work out in a shop, no? So normally when moving, you had your stable second home to go to many days per week. But now when home is in upheaval, so is your "office."

Just wanted to say: understandable!

Am sure blog only scratches the, surface etc.

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