Tag Archives: food

(NaBloPoMo) #2: What you’d eat (& strike!)

graffiti (red on concrete): resistance is fertileYesterday, I said I was going to jump in to this National Blog Posting Month at BlogHer. For the rest of the month, I’ll be incorporating their prompts into my daily blog.

Good morning, good morning. Here where I am, the music is so quiet that I can barely hear it, and the birds are still asleep. I actually managed to get out of bed around the time when my (second) alarm went off at 4.30 today — I think I’m getting back on schedule. The puppy has taken to getting up when I do and coming into the office to sleep next to me, which I adore. (It helps, I think, that I put an extremely comfy pillow down there to entice her.) How is it where you are?

For NaBloPoMo Day 2, the prompt they offer is this: If you knew that whatever you ate next would be your last meal, what would you want it to be?

Here’s what I thought when I read this prompt — If I knew whatever I was about to eat would be the last food I tasted, all I would want is to be present, to really be there. No tv, no book, no distraction. Maybe this would be the hardest part, just focusing on the food, on the tastes, on the small explosions in my mouth. Of course, this is where mindfulness practice comes in, something I don’t include nearly enough of in my day: Meditation, deep attention. I would want the whole moment to come in to my body and experience, not just the meal, but the reality of it being a last meal. No, then again, maybe not — if we’re just and only in the moment, then the lastness doesn’t come into play. It doesn’t matter what comes next. What matters is this moment, this breath, this inhale, this aroma, this taste, this motion of teeth against food, this swallow, this noticing what enters my body, this small smile.

In this scenario, do I get to eat with someone else, or am I alone? If I’m with someone else, do I get to feed them with my fingers? Can they feed me with theirs? I think one of the last things I’d like to experience is someone feeding me with tenderness and deep care.

I don’t think the actual meal itself would matter so much — who cares? After this, no more food. Is it because I’m about to die, or am I going to a place where there’s no eating? I got lost in this train of thought for a little bit.

Then I think, well, maybe I do know what I’d want to eat. I would like some fresh vegetables, green beans, a bright salad, red onion, pomegranate seeds, roasted almonds, mango. Fresh, handmade, thick corn tortillas, warmed to soft-crisp. Sharp cheese. Jasmine green tea, then mint tea. These are the last tastes I’d want in my mouth. A little dark chocolate.

(Maybe popcorn, but just a little.)

What about you? If you knew the last meal you were going to eat would be the last meal you ate, what would you want to eat?

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Today, in Oakland, #occupyoakland has called for a General Strike. The link there will take you to a page describing all the many ways to get involved — not everyone there today will have taken the whole day off work; the organizers are working hard to bring in and create space for as many folks as possible.

I’m hoping to get over there toward the end of the day, even though I don’t live or work in Oakland. The energy that I experienced last week over at Ogawa-Grant Plaza is just too amazing, and I want to put my body in the work.

There’s good and necessary stuff to our sharing information online–social networking, of course, has significantly aided the movements that have erupted across the world over this year–but, for those who can, we also have to put our bodies in the place, on the ground, together, linking arms, raising voices, physically manifesting our resistance. For those who can and wish to, this is deep self care. We give ourselves the bodily experience of resistance together, of revolution, we allow our bodies the memory of solidarity, we give our hearts that message: we are not alone in this struggle. Look, look: we are not alone.

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So, these are the prompts today: What would you eat for a last meal OR write to the word resist. Give yourself, your writing body, these 10 minutes for your creative voice, and follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go.

Thank you for all the ways that your body has manifested resistance, and for the ways you are tender to it (to yourself) now, in the aftermath. Thank you for your creative resilience. Thank you for your words.

my body still tries to become her body

graffiti: water + bread + home = basicsGood morning — it’s the day after the day after; it’s also the second day of Kwanzaa, Kujichagulia (Self-Determination). This time, for me, tends to be one of reflection: what’s happened in this year just passing? What are the possibilities, my dreams and visions, for the year to come?

(Aha – a prompt!)

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I spent some of yesterday re-reading Women Who Eat, a collection of essays by women about food, cooking, eating — which, by necessity, is also a collection of essays about family, about mothers, about relationships. What do we eat and why? What don’t we eat and why? How did we learn to cook, if we did? How did we learn to feed ourselves, if we did?

This is a time of year with a lot of focus on food, on family gatherings around big meals, so it’s another reason to consider these questions — food brings up big associations and memories, and can be fertile ground for writing.

I learned to cook from my mom, watching her in the kitchen.

(How much of this writing am I really ready to do today, directly into the computer, like my hands could do something creative and generative on these plastic keys. )

She moved around the kitchen like nothing was outside her reach, she understood all the different machinery and what it was good for (juicer, food mill, blender, mixer). She was a vegetarian and a natural food aficionado when I was young, so I learned about kefir and homegrown alfalfa sprouts and carob (things she never learned in her own mother’s kitchen in the middle of southern Nebraska). What else did I learn? I learned about the possibility of joy and creativity in the kitchen, making things up and having tasty mistakes. I learned how flour and water and yeast turned into a live thing that grew in her pottery bowl and then became a brown warm smell that filled the whole house. I know how to knead now because I watched her, and my body still tries to become her body whenever I make bread.

Did I learn, too, that cooking could be an escape? That the kitchen could be a place of unassailable creative possibility — I mean, a place where we could open the fridge door and begin imagining what to do with all the leftovers that would be fresh and interesting and tasty and new — when there wasn’t money to make a whole new meal? My mother taught me about cooking (and eating) well and healthily on a budget — about coupons and carrying a calculator while pushing the cart through the aisles at the discount supermarket downtown, about how nearly every ingredient has a substitute you can use, about making due, making up, making good.

From watching her, too, I learned about perfection and rules and sublimating joy to someone else’s demands and desires.

One of the first poems I ever wrote was in response to an exercise called My Mother’s Kitchen — and the poem I wrote was a kind of a fairy tale, a wishing-to-remember, a child patting at a tiny loaf of bread while her mother kneads the big loaf for dinner. There’s a kitchen timer in the piece, toward the end, a kind of alarm: a terrible foreshadowing.

It can be interesting to revisit prompts, reuse them: I would write a different poem now. I would try to get into words the smell of my mom there in the first kitchen I remember her in, out in the country, with the wheat fields outside our window — you could see them beyond the alfalfa and avocado she had sprouting, erupting, on the windowsill — everything that mattered, everything she was fighting and offering when she ground us fresh peanut butter or pushed fat bright carrots through the Juicerator for lunchtime, everything she was pushing back and everything that was coming.

(Another poem, entirely, if I let myself write about my father’s kitchen.)

If I had a child, what would they say about their mother’s kitchen? The foods I cook tend to be simple, hearty, unpretty but tasty and filling. I am good at breakfasts, stir fries, beans, soups, salads, bread, pies, cookies, desserts. I am not good with meat anymore, or with fancy. I’m good with potatoes, though, and corn. I can do the things with flour and sugar and butter that my women relatives have done for generations. There’s lineage there, togetherness, assistance and honoring even when I feel like I’m in my kitchen all alone.

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What about you? What do you remember about your mother’s kitchen? What don’t you remember? Take 20 minutes, start writing, let yourself remember the foods you loved, the foods you were ashamed of. If there wasn’t a mother in that kitchen, who was there? Follow your writing wherever it seems to want to go.

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Thank you for your skilled memory, the way you take what you were given and you create power and joy and nurturing now. Thank you for your words.

I could take one small step that helped me feel more sane

protein for everyone: beans, lentils and peas in small paper bags...It’s nearly 7. My alarm went off, first, at 5:24. Fresh! said, “I think you should go in there and tell them, ‘Good morning, world.  I slept in.'”

So, yeah.  What he said.  Good morning — and happy Monday!

I don’t remember my dreams last night. I do remember that at one point this weekend I was dreaming about my sister and her boyfriend and we were in a library (the library of a university that I have visited a bunch of times during dreams), and then later I was off on my own in the library, heading for the HQs, while my sister and her boyfriend found us a table. There, just before the HQs, was a certain movie star, looking for something, or having found it, and talking with me about why he was in that section of the library. It was a little odd that this movie star was in my dreams, until I was telling Fresh! about the dream later, and I said his name (Michael Cera), and I heard the pun there — I thought about Lacan, about the subconscious as a language, about the metaphors and puns and slips of Real in through our every day speech.  Maybe the whole dream was about me and my sister (Sarah).

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I’m thinking today, as I hustle from warm bed to shower to bus, with this short interlude at the blog, about rice and beans.

Back before I became vegetarian for a few years (when I was in my early 30s), I didn’t eat beans, except maybe in altered forms: tofu, red bean paste, hummus. But beans that looked like beans, not all that much. But I realized that if I was going to be even a remotely successful vegetarian, I’d pretty much have to eat beans.  (And eggplant, which I wasn’t all that fond of either.)

I’d maybe recently discovered (and fallen in love with) Ethiopian cuisine, with the lentil wots — and, ok, I ate rice and beans when I went out for Mexican food, either as refritos or as whole frijoles in my tacos or burritos.

My decision to become vegetarian arose out of pure hopelessness — we humans were (are) killing the planet, we were (are) decimating other species  and thought nothing of it. I was working at the time for a battered women’s organization in southern Maine, and deepened my education in patriarchal violence –and also learned about women’s power and control with and over other women, and unlearned the myth that women’s space is necessarily safer space for women. Women using power and control challenged the traditional strictly-sexism-based model of domestic violence; the anti-DV movement as a whole didn’t want to have to deal with that issue: too messy.  I started working with LGBT survivors, and I was quickly determining that there was no safe place, anywhere, at all: no place safe from human violence.

Sitting in the Big Box Bookstore at the Maine Mall where I made my writing-home for much of the time I lived in Maine, I flipped through cookbooks, and came across The World in Your Kitchen, from New Internationalist Press, which not only had amazing, diverse vegetarian recipes from all over the world (so different from the complementary protein loaves I’d though maybe I’d have to resign myself to if I actually wanted to commit to vegetarianism), but also included a good deal of politics in the introductory sections, and included a description of the amounts of soy grown all  over the world and shipped off to feed cattle — vast amounts of protein grown, often by starving folks, and then shipped away (and consider the energy required to accomplish that) and fed to animals instead of humans.

This flipped a switch in me: OK. Maybe I couldn’t save my mother. Maybe I couldn’t change all these men who somehow found time in their work schedules (or, maybe, got grants from father’s rights organizations) to spend entire months stalking their girlfriends or wives without once actually technically violating their restraining orders. Maybe I wasn’t going to change the core group of the women I worked with at this agency who were determined not to own up to their own misuse of power and control over other women, particularly women of color. But I could decide what I put into my body. I could decide where my money went. I could take one small step that helped me feel more sane.

And I learned a lot about beans and rice, about legumes (beans, peas) and grains and how those form the basis for most of our indigenous human cuisines. Dhals and wots and tofu n rice, groundnuts n samp, chickpeas n couscous, peanut butter n bread: whole proteins to get you working and well through the day.

Right now, I’m perfecting the preparation of brown-rice-n-peas, Jamaican style (at the request of my spouse, who came up West Indian): brown rice n kidney beans n coconut milk n some onion n hot pepper n thyme.  That’s it. So good. And we’ve just received a crock-pot from my mom as a housewarming gift — vegetarian feijoada, here we come

What’s your favorite combo of legume n grain?