I am so angry at the world tonight because I can’t find a way to watch episode 2 of Girls online for free. ::shakes fist:: (update, thanks pirate friends!)
So I guess I could tell you I read these two books over the weekend. Dustin brought them home from work at my behest.
“tHE OLD ONE IS ABOUT CRIPPLING ILLNESS. yOU UP FOR THAT? i MEAN, SHE SURVIVES, SO. DID YOU KNOW SHE’S A GENIUS NOW?”
I don’t know why he was doing all caps, but I accepted it.
He got home around 11pm and I stayed up past 2 reading the first one. Then on Sunday I read the second one in the middle of the day, on the couch, while it rained.
They are very good. Sort of detached, lyric, very measured, distilled shit. Like Lydia Davis and Maggie Nelson kinda stuff. I’M INTO IT.
I wish I had them to read again. I mean, I do. But it’s not the same!
Sarah Manguso! She’s also a poet. I am in her corner.
10:48 pm • 23 April 2012 • 29 notes
This book this book this book. I found it on what was for an afternoon the Lost & Found table at work and the guy who cleans our office told me to take it. I hugged it to my chest. I am sure it’s someone else’s. This blog post may be my undoing.
This is I guess what people call a “food memoir” which I suppose means it has two strikes against it and makes people stand up and shout, “I COULD DO THAT! WHY HER?” from the bottom of their bellies, instinctively. But shut up for one damn second because this book is the goddamn best. Fuck every other book.
I don’t know that it’s a memoir so much as it’s this weird thing where she just…basically is like working under the premise that she pretty much has it all figured out when it comes to eating/cooking/etc and has lived to tell about it, and is now going to tell you about it. She is also an excellent writer, downright lyrical. Only occasionally annoying (I know!). She’s just like, “Okay look here is how you [boil water, make the best salad, be amazing, have a dinner part, etc].” And then you’re like, Oh this is everything I ever wanted to know, written in paragraphs and just fucking TOLD to me in this one book.
Maybe that isn’t your thing. If it’s not, it’s not. I personally feel like this was the book I didn’t even dare hope to exist (oh my god, someone pay me to write blurbs for them). I self-soothe by reading cookbooks cover to cover. There is not only the repetition but also the assurance that I am gaining real, finite knowledge. I never really remember the recipes I read - at best I remember that one or two exist, later on when I need something — but as I read them it all feels very essential.
In the age of Wikipedia (sorry) there are so few things we can’t, if we want to, immediately know (I know that statement is too grandiose and general to be accurate, but you know what I mean!). And I want to know every great recipe in the world. I want them all inside my head like a rolodex and I want to stare at my cabinet and see three things and make something that will make Dustin tell me I am a genius and I’ll say, “Oh please,” and try not to smile.
Many great cookbooks start with a little bit about a “well-stocked pantry.” I study them. I go back and re-read, trying to commit them to memory. I DON’T REMEMBER ANY OF IT. I don’t follow it! I never have once. But I still straight-up long to know the Answer to this. Some deep part of my brain is so sure there is a Platonian pantry out there and SOMEONE knows about it and maybe if I read every list of suggested ingredients for a well-stocked pantry, this knowledge will be mine and every time we go to make a meal I’ll say things like, “Oh, red wine vinegar? Yep, GOT IT.” (Just want to say that we actually do have red wine vinegar. #countit) Nothing would be out of my reach. No quick trips to the corner store would be made. Dinner was fate. We were meant to eat this perfect amalgamation of whole grains, a root vegetable, and vinaigrette. We are good at life.
[When trying to conjure dinner out of the handful of things already in our kitchen, I will NOT go to the deli on the corner that has everything. That’s cheating! Someone else always goes and I try to protest and then end up revealing that I am challenging myself in some unnecessary way for no real reason and I have to give in. Fine, go buy the leeks. “If you want.”]
When attempting to make dinner out of whatever it is we have, Not Knowing All the Recipes hurts my brain in this very particular way. I go searching for something seemingly just out of my reach, like a word I can’t seem to find or the way a dream fades from your consciousness as soon as you try to talk about it out loud. SHOULD HAVE READ MORE COOKBOOKS.
Sure you can google a few ingredients and find stuff but then cut to me sitting in the dark of my living room, starving in front of my laptop, reading every comment on every stupid ass Epicurious recipe that exists. Outcome: not as good as knowing everything there is to know.
Maybe we should back up. I am new to cooking. No one ever taught me. Okay, smittenkitchen.com taught me (holla!). My boyfriend has tried to teach me how to use a knife a few times but I don’t take criticism very well. I took a pickling class once. And so on. So this is very new and while now I know that if nothing else I like doing it, and I know what I like, and nothing seems too insurmountable.
So I can make pies and handle Thanksgiving dinner and host dinner parties and come home after work and whip something up, studied recipe by studied recipe, but I want more of that thing that Tamar Adler is referring to, I think, when she talks about “grace.” This is something I can know so completely in my head but I find it hard to articulate. I even have this hand gesture to try to explain it. A certain je ne sais quoi. You wave your hands, palms down, to the left and right a little. When you have this thing, you move through the kitchen with ease — back and forth, left and right — like that in my mind. You glide. Dinner appears before you, fully-formed in your mind’s eye, as soon as you open the fridge. You get a little thrill and then get to work. You see some leftover something in the fridge and it feels as if the Universe is unfolding according to plan. You have tamed life and made it yours. You are the picture of resourcefulness. You roast beets on the weekends. You save the broth for next time. When next time comes around you feel unparalleled levels of assurance. In yourself. You glide.
This state of being is what I want to unlock. This is all I want. Not how to make bread but how to make bread with ease so that it fills the house with bread-ness in the morning before work and you feel like you are probably on at least your 3rd or 4th life because no one got it this right the first time. Step aside, every other measure of success. This whole homemade bread thing is all that matters!
This is basically what this book is about. And if you think I sound like a loon, granted, but this woman is even crazier. In the best way, obviously.
Here is a test to see if you would like this book. Read the sentence I have pasted below and if you hate it in a bemused way — like you groan and laugh and read it aloud to someone but are also like Okay lady I see where you’re going, then you should read it. If you downright scoff and hate the world, this book may not be for you:
“The degrading of mayonnaise from a wonderful condiment for cooked vegetables or sandwiches to an indistinguishable layer of fat has been radical and violent.”
It’s that authority! It’s like, only someone with her level of Kitchen Grace could call mayo hate violent. I want her to hang out with me and make bold proclamations about the status quo.
My mom is great and I don’t want a new mom, but do you ever find yourself wishing for some wise, idealized person to swoop into your life and tell you how things are done? In reality I would end up trying to poke holes in their worldview and start resenting them, but I still long for this sort of presence in my life. And I think in a better world I would have a disembodied Tamar Adler telling me what to do and how to live, in all sorts of ways. Because she gets this way of things, and exalts it, without quite naming it, again and again. And while I don’t really remember any of the recipes or all of the Things To Do / Ways of Being (like saving stems and cooking with them later, roasting vegetables on the weekend, having little kids shuck peas for you), I do feel like I have internalized her approach a little. And I try, a few times a week, to find myself feeling like, Yes, I have done it. I am gliding back and forth around my kitchen with ease. Everything feels like fate. The universe is unfolding as it should, and by that I mean there are leftovers being brought to lunch and soup is always better on the next day. That sort of thing.
7:38 pm • 4 March 2012 • 219 notes
“Don’t swim upstream, baby. The future was right where you were.”
Ze Frank launched a Kickstarter project last night to bring back a new version of the show, now A Show, and I’ve been all nostalgic and watching handfuls of these old videos every night before bed (better known as “partying like it’s 2007”). Anyway some of the thrill of what he was doing is lost now that VLOGGING is a thing but it’s still hilarious and silly and occasionally profound. He said this about some woman back in the day (in internet time, “back in the day” is appropriate for anything from over 3 years ago) who was streaming an in-house concert from her bedroom every night for 21 days and then got signed by Sony BMG. I love the sentiment — it’s an argument I have every few weeks (tough life) — and also just how the words sound together. God.
6:37 pm • 28 February 2012 • 43 notes