|My sweet vegetarian girl's birthday dream dinner. Seriously. "Oh my God, you got white bread! Mama, thank you so much!" "You're so welcome, |
Oh my darlings, thank you for
sobbing down memory lane with me your sweet birthday wishes for Birdy. It really has been a decade, and so I am wishing you a happy anniversary, and I remembered to get you flowers, they just didn't come yet. Look out your front door, in May. That blooming tree? That'll be from me!
|In real life, the cover is not pixelated at all. In fact, it is exceptionally lovely and boasts the fancy detail known in the business as "spot gloss." But don't take my word for it!|
Meanwhile, if I told you that I secretly think of food as an idiom for love, you’d roll your eyes, I know. It’s about as secret as the fact that I drive with Scotch tape on my forehead to prevent squinting wrinkles, i.e. not very secret. The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: True Tales of Food, Family & How We Learn to Eat is, therefore, my perfect book. Because every story in the collection understands that food is always so much more than food: the way we put it on the table or don’t manage to put it on the table, or the way we love it or (!) hate it, or the way it stands in for memory, like Proust’s madeleine, only more like Proust’s buffalo chicken wing or Proust’s macaroni and cheese (or Proust's blackaroni and cheese, Deesha Philyaw’s name for her family’s heart-stopping take on it). Also, the book has recipes.
|Somewhere is a picture of Birdy with sweet potato in her hair, but this isn't it.|
I am proud to have a story of my own in this anthology, “Talk with Your Mouth Full,” about dinner-table conversation, including current goings-on as well as a bit of reminiscing from the sweet-potato-hair days. I am also proud to be in such ridiculously talented company. I have to tell you that Karen Valby’s story, “The Hunger Shames,” actually made me cry three separate times (page 133, page 137, and, when you turn the page and see that the recipe is for Doro Wat, page 138—if you’ve got the book handy). Or this, from Jen Larsen’s story, “Food Hater”: “‘Some people cook food,’” is what my mother should have said, followed by, ‘instead of shaking and baking, or hamburger helping, or cranking open a tin can of carrots and boiling the stuff inside until it can be used as spackle for the cracks in your heart.’” And Phyllis Grant’s story, “Recipe,” which includes Step 3: “Lean over the sink to peel potatoes. Say fuck fuck fuck fuck over and over again. Try to untangle depression from fatigue from clumsiness from failure. Remind yourself that sleep deprivation is a form of torture.” (Who is this Phyllis Grant? I wondered to myself. I see she has a blog, dash and bella, I said to myself. Ah, I notice she has 11 bazillion readers! I really have my finger on the pulse. Of a tortoise.)