gobble gobble

On "carving foul:"
"If the bird is to be carved at table, be sure the
heated serving platter is large enough, and garnish it lightly with parsley or watercress. There is a subtle art to carving...."

-- p. 421 of Joy of Cooking, 1975

My mother's copy of Joy of Cooking is an utter mystery to me; I have a difficult time picturing an earlier version of my mother who doesn't know how to cook. I can't imagine this mom flipping pages and flirting with the idea of making "sour cream apple cake souffle cockaigne" or "fresh cod a la Portugaise."

In my world, my mother already knows her ingredients. And they definitely do not include squirrel: "Gray squirrels are the preferred ones; red squirrels are small and quite gamy in flavor.... Stuff and roast squirrels as for pigeons...." (p. 515)

How fascinatingly preposterous, right?

So yes, I am spending part of my Thanksgiving weekend flipping through very old cookbooks. And wondering if I could ever style myself after Julie Powell. (Answer: No. It's been done, a movie's been made, the jig is up. Plus I don't have a husband to feed and one woman cannot ingest the amount of butter Joy of Cooking circa 1975 suggests.)

I am also spending much time contemplating the past, and wondering about the future. Blame Audrey Niffenegger, perhaps, and the fact that my second reading of The Time Traveler's Wife ended with me sobbing at 3 a.m. (Poor Clare! Always, always waiting for Henry! What is Niffenegger trying to say? That even in love, we are alone? Always?)

In the meantime, my unabashed begging for pointers to books that won't make me cry did not go unanswered -- if you flip to this blog's previous post, you'll find thoughtful suggestions from both TSS and Erin (my unofficial co-bloggers/generally awesome Edmontonians). However, before they weighed in, I made a therapeutic shopping trip to a local bookstore. And decided it was time to get to know Dan Savage a little better.

So, I've got The Commitment on my nightstand, waiting for me to finish The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews.

Yes, I realize neither of these books are guaranteed to make me laugh. Neither are as vapid as Fame (which I enjoyed, because there's lots of singing and dancing and very little character development or plot).

No matter how well written, Savage's book ties in with the ongoing battle in the United States to legalize gay marriage. And so by definition can't really be a laugh riot. And The F'ing Troutmans (as the title reads on the outside of the hardcover copy) begins with a psychotic mother left all but comatose by her illness. Her sister, the main character, is left with the shambles of piecing together family life. Parts are freaking hilarious because Toews understands children so well and puts them on the page in this utterly believable, uniquely beautiful way. But there's a sad, longing undertone to the whole thing.


I worry I just can't stop being serious.

Ok, folks -- back to the books, and other weekend adventures. Happy Canadian (and therefore awesome and understated) Thanksgiving.


TSS said...

Excellent, you're reading Dan Savage! Fair warning, he can get quite graphic. I fear *you* will be scandalized many, many times.

That said, I never read The Commitment. Let me know how it is...

His column is also in See every week (also quite racy), or the avclub.com every Wednesday.

But you will never find more honest, no holds barred, practical advice.

Trish said...

Fair comments, Tej.... Except, um, I've been reading Dan Savage for years.... So *I* am able to manage my scandal....

erin said...

Does it make me a prude that I've always found Dan Savage's column offensive and over-the-top? I embrace honesty, but sometimes I think he uses vulgarity as a tool to make people pay attention, and as a cover-up for his not-bad-not-stellar writing. I'm pretty sure I couldn't stomach a whole book...

TSS said...

From your post I thought you were just getting familiar with Dan Savage. My mistake.

Can't blame me for thinking this way, I figure. I've never seen any one gasp and express horror more when something untoward and possibly offensive is mentioned in conversation.