Avatar 2: A Lot of Blue People
"Small Fires" -- Big Ego
“The recipe is a method for responding to things. Things have agency in many directions. Like words, they have histories and contexts, but when I perform the recipe, things become other things in a messier transformation than words in a sentence. They spatter my shirt red” (p. 51)
“When I cook the recipe, I experience the difference between the knowledge promised by language, and the unboundedness of embodiment, which is both richer and more dangerous that the text can convey.” (p. 73)
“My ‘reception’ of the recipe – my intervention into the tradition of recipe reception – is to translate text into food. Each time I cook the recipe I produce a new translation of the text. I translate the recipe from the medium of language into the spattering physicality of the ingredients. Like different translations of the Odyssey, my translations of the recipe vary in accordance with the historical moment.” (p. 81)
“When people ask about my work an assumption hangs in the air that I am writing a lovely book of lovely recipes that will be beautifully photographed. … ‘Lovely’ is an acutely gendered adjective that brings my body into the discussion of my writing. It defines my writing through my body… ‘Lovely’ defines and excludes the non-lovely and works to legitimize violence against those who differ from the ideal of an obedient, quiet, thin, clean, happy, grateful, rich, white woman.” (p 98)
"Small Fires: An Epic in the Kitchen ... aims to upend not only the way we cook but the way we think about cooking. The book regards recipes as sites of dynamic, creative engagement across generations — and notes that most bragging about not following a recipe is simply a defensive response to anxiety about originality. Small Fires, … is brave enough to hurt feelings, and delicious enough for no one to care."
I read all of this little book, and I mostly found it annoying. I will admit that there are a few good passages among all the posturing and long words and blustering and self-promotion, and I understand her point, that making a recipe for tomato sauce (particularly Marcella Hazan’s recipe) is a metaphor for life in general or for the plight of women in society. She isn’t the first one to discover this. I suspect that this book will be popular with other pseudo-intellectuals and aspirants to intellectual giganticness.
My Whole Week Felt Kind of Eerie
“Climate scientists have been saying for decades that global warming would lead to a proliferation of wildfires. Last year a U.N. report warned of a ‘global wildfire crisis’ as many forested areas become hotter and drier. The smoke-filled skies outside my window are, in effect, a validation of mainstream climate science: The experts didn’t predict this particular disaster for this particular week, but this is exactly the kind of thing they’ve been warning us would happen.” (Paul Krugman in the New York Times)