Before Air-Conditioning*

Later on, in the Depression thirties, the summers seemed even hotter. Out West, it was the time of the red sun and the dust storms, when whole desiccated farms blew away and sent the Okies, whom Steinbeck immortalized, out on their desperate treks toward the Pacific. My father had a small coat factory on Thirty-ninth Street then, with about a dozen men working sewing machines. Just to watch them handling thick woollen winter coats in that heat was, for me, a torture. The cutters were on piecework, paid by the number of seams they finished, so their lunch break was short—fifteen or twenty minutes. They brought their own food: bunches of radishes, a tomato perhaps, cucumbers, and a jar of thick sour cream, which went into a bowl they kept under the machines. A small loaf of pumpernickel also materialized, which they tore apart and used as a spoon to scoop up the cream and vegetables.

~ Arthur Miller, Before Air-Conditioning (The New Yorker, June 22, 1998)


Notes:

  • *Inspired by temperature now in Dallas, TX: 103° F and Rising!
  • Photo: Radishes by El Oso Botas. “Madrid-based, Guatemala-born and raised, photographer, food stylist, chef and digital content creator. I’ve had a keen interest in art, colours, and shapes since I was a child.” More photographs here.

Yesterday I was shucking (sweet) corn

Yesterday I was shucking corn
for supper – pulling off the green sheaths
and brushing away the silks –
and suddenly in my hand I feel the naked cob
so cool, sweet, intimate, smooth, like skin I’m holding.
And I am deeply touched with surprise and rapture.
And I think how it is to feel life in the skin,
in the touch of plant flesh (sweet milk swelling the seeds) –
and how mostly people go for days
without touching anything from the earth…
Like ivory keys
I play the kernels with my tongue:
OH
OH

~ M.C. Richards, from “Sweet Corn” (1994) in Opening our Moral Eye


Photo: Stephen Ritchie with i love corn on the cob

Running. With Restraint. And With None of It.

What do you excel at?

A) Habitual repeating. (Professional kind)

Consistent, effective execution. Compulsive in following through on commitments. Dependable. You can count on him.

And that’s life isn’t it, the antithesis of what makes you effective at “A”, makes you a disaster a “B”.

B) Habitual repeating, in bulk. (Personal kind. Random, exculpatory list below.)

  • Thoughts. (Swirling, incessant, dark)
  • Doubts. (Many)
  • Food (Binges, sugar, fast food, anything).
  • Running ‘paths’ (Note emphasis on paths and not running, there should be zero inferences to mastery in frequency, distance or pace.)
  • Blog post ‘themes’. (Note emphasis on themes. And no mention of original work.)

How many times can you spout on about the same sh*t? Let’s see. Let’s use metaphors, not your own of course. Because that would take talent, effort. How many times? Richard Powers, “A thousand—a thousand thousand—green-tipped, splitting fingerlings.”

So here we go again. [Read more…]

Truth

Here’s Pavarotti copied from an interview somewhere:

One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”

Patricia HamplThe Art of the Wasted Day (Published April 17, 2018)

 


Photo: BonAppétit, Pappardelle with Arugula and Prosciutto

 

Oh my, I say

It is the season of the meruňka—apricot time. It’s unclear when, exactly, she had time to make the dough for the little pillows of these dumplings, when she managed to buy the apricots… She pours melted butter over the ivory lumps in our shallow soup plates, then a brief snowstorm of sugar and crumbled white cheese, dry and salty. We pierce the puffery of the dough with big dessert spoons. Out comes the yellow-orange fruit, melting from the dumpling’s creamy white, like a perfectly coddled egg. Oh my, I say. They both beam at me. You see, you see, Anna says, as if I have finally seen the light she keeps trying to show me. My pleasure is proof that, in spite of everything I get wrong, maybe I’m learning after all what matters in life.

Patricia HamplThe Art of the Wasted Day (Published April 17, 2018)


Notes:

The Fixer

It doesn’t matter what time of day. My digestif after scrambled eggs at breakfast. A satisfying and necessary fulfiller after lunch. A smooth finisher after dinner. A soothing pre-bed, night time snack. And of course, that something-something between meals.

There it is.

Mint-Chocolate Chip Gelato.

I’m in line at the check-out counter at Palmer’s Market, gripping four (4) cylindrical containers of Talenti Gelato, two pints in each hand. The ice crystals cool the palm of my hand, and I wonder how long it took to ship this gelato from some quaint dairy farm in Southern Italy. A farm that’s been in the same family for hundreds of years. Farm-fresh from cow to these hard plastic cylinders to the freezer at Palmer’s Market, with all of the hand made manufacturing processes in-between. (Gelato, gelato, I find myself repeating gelato and liking it, especially the finish. My lips form an “o” like “o” isn’t this “o” so wonderful).

I move up in line, gently setting the gelatos down on the conveyor. They slide forward.

[Read more…]

Slice (of life)

ben-orange

Slice“, Benito Martin (Photographer, Sydney Australia)

Did I eat all that? It’s time for New Year’s Resolutions.


Source: (via Newthom)

Saturday Morning Market

I am awash with a deep abiding love
For shiny purple eggplants,
Real and rounded in such womanly ways.
I am beside myself with wonder
At the many shapes and hues
Of crook-necked squash and new potatoes,
Earthy red and ochre tan,
Goldfinch yellow and deep summer green.
I am grateful to tears
For fresh beet greens and rhubarb,
Green peppers and Swiss chard,
And for the first vine-ripe tomatoes
That are so perfect you go ahead
And eat one like an apple,
Leaning forward
Without looking
To see if anyone is watching.
I am blessing the names
Of the farmers and bread bakers,
Sunburnt and beautiful,
Freckled and friendly,
Who make change
And comfortable conversation.

This is real abundance
Of the senses and spirit,
A true kind of church,
With its arms open wide
To the eaters and eaten,
The growers and grown,
To all who come looking
For what is common and earthly,
Luminous and lasting,
And to be dumbstruck with wonder
By what we carry back home
In an ordinary basket.

~ Carrie Newcomer, “Saturday Morning Market” in The Beautiful Not Yet: Poems, Essays and Lyrics 


Notes:

 

a happy time when you can escape this world, you know, and lose yourself in food

DAVIES: (Laughter) OK. We’re speaking with Anthony Bourdain. He has a new cookbook called “Appetites.” This is an interesting cookbook to look at and to read. You write in it there’s nothing remotely innovative in the recipes. You’re lifting them from imperfect memories of childhood favorites. Why this kind of book?

BOURDAIN: Well, I wanted it to be useful, approachable, reflective of the life I’ve lived over the past eight or nine years as a father, as opposed to a professional trying to dazzle with, you know, pretty pictures and food that’s different than everybody else’s. No, I wanted to make a beautiful cookbook, creative-looking one spoken in honest, straightforward, casual terms that gives the reader reasonable expectations, that encourages them to organize themselves in the way that I’ve found to be useful as a professional.

But as far as the recipes, you know, when I cook at home, it’s with a 9-year-old girl in mind. I mean, she’s who I need to please. And if she’s not happy, I’m not happy. The whole house revolves around her and her friends, so it’s reflective of that. It’s also reflective of, I think, age and all those years in the restaurant business.

Most chefs I know after work do not want to go out to dinner and be forced to think about what they’re eating in a critical or analytical way. They want to experience food as they did as children, in an emotional way, the pure pleasure of that bowl of spicy noodles or even a – you know, a bowl of soup that their mom gave them on a rainy day when they’d been bullied in school. I mean, that’s a happy time when you can escape this world, you know, and lose yourself in food. So these are recipes that hopefully – where I try to evoke those kinds of feelings and emotions.

~ Anthony Bourdain, from an interview in 2016 titled  On ‘Appetites,’ Washing Dishes And The Food He Still Won’t Eat (NPR.org, “Fresh Air“, October 20, 2017)

Bourdain’s cookbook can be found here: Appetites: A Cookbook


Notes:

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