A Literary Feast

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The Perfect Stocking Stuffer

Posted on January 3rd, 2013

When I was 14, I filled my mother’s Christmas stocking for the first time. It was the first time I had filled any sort of Christmas stocking at all, and I suppose there wasn’t anyone else’s I would have filled. She was a single parent and I was an only child, and I’m guessing this was sort of a first for her, too – the first time anyone had filled her stocking since her own mother had done it. I had likely stumbled upon the idea (unprompted) that I was grown up enough for the task, and went about curating the perfect selection of stocking stuffers with an overstuffed sense of responsibility. I don’t remember much of what I chose; probably some lilac soap…

How I Became A DIY Burnout

Posted on January 2nd, 2013

I have a brown thumb. I kill houseplants with 100% effectiveness. So I was thrilled when I was able to cultivate kombucha. Granted, it doesn’t need to be watered, or really tended in any way, but just the fact that I could take a half bottle of store-bought liquid and turn it into a thick, slimy culture that covered the whole surface of my bowl-full-of-tea seemed like a microbiological miracle. Once my kombucha took off, there was no stopping me. I became a fermentation fiend. Jars and bottles covered every available surface. Yogurt, kefir, cheese, kimchi, sour pickles, apple cider vinegar, even lacto-fermented root and ginger beer. Time and again I was delighted by the magical transformation of raw materials into something richer and…

The End of Meals: A Meditation on Eating at the Edge of the Mayan Apocalypse

Posted on January 3rd, 2013

Once, in Spokane, I ate the best snails of my life. The waiter said they were fresh, and I looked at him for a long moment and thought, “Fresh from where?” and then ate them all anyway, soaked in butter and garlic and a little white wine. Another time, my brother and I sat in the innards of a subterranean sculpture on the grounds of an art museum, a round kiva-like space with one oblong hole to the sky, and ate durian together. Some children entered and gathered round the durian, touching its spines and asking for a taste. So we fed them durian pods while their parents looked on, its rotten egg-custard smell making everyone laugh.   Or what about when, on a…

Without A Title

Posted on January 3rd, 2013

A gibbous smile on Dimpled skin Alight over fallow field Existence on tenterhooks As silhouette of subsequent orb For without celestial sol(stice) Tis’ But a visage of joy.   For two spheres tenable and unbound Pass in night Intrinsically juxtaposed Obstinate and flippant As the aubergines or butterflies.  

The Christmas Pudding

Posted on January 3rd, 2013

A thin veil of fear and mystery, like the snowy fog that half hides slick black tree trunks at the dark end of December, clings to the very mention of Christmas pudding. It rattles like a strange and bony relic of a past half forgotten, one of hams pierced a thousand times with the blunt brown tips of whole cloves, sideboards sagging with tawny port, Armagnac and Amontillado in bottles that glisten like crown jewels or the pride of a dragon’s hoard, and, in the kitchen, a sleeping beast at the bottom of a stockpot snoring on the stovetop since the first glint of Christmas dawn—the pudding itself, belching out clouds of steam so thick you could cut them with a trowel, and dreaming,…

Boxed, Canned, Or Frozen

Posted on January 3rd, 2013

Every family has traditions and I hope every father/daughter duo has their own.  My father and I have many, born out of the few years that we lived on our own during my early adolescence. The obvious difference of my dad being a dude aside, our relationship mirrored “Gilmore Girls” much more than “Blossom.” He was in his early thirties, in a band, and had a home recording studio–I was a brainy adolescent making pancakes for the touring bands sleeping on the living room floor. By day my father is a chef, and like most in his trade lost the inspiration to cook by the time he made it home from work.  Regularly at dinnertime I would ask “Dad, what’s for dinner?” he would respond,…

Less Potato

Posted on January 3rd, 2013

Last spring, a friend and I went to see Damaged, an Off-Off-Broadway play by a rising playwright and director Simone Marie Martelle. The production that we watched was her thesis play, wherein she perfected the Eugene O’Neill-quality dynamic between members of a well-meaning but ultimately self-absorbed family who are so shrouded in personal drama that they fail to see their collective lives screeching toward a cataclysm. In the final scene, after the neglected and molested daughter takes her own life, the culprits stand around the darkening living room and the patriarch – masterfully portrayed by Kevin Bohl, one of New York theater’s best-kept secrets – delivers a monologue about potato salad. The character’s mother used to make him classic, cheap potato salad when he was a boy, and…

Burnt Ends

Posted on January 3rd, 2013

New Year’s Eve celebrations in Orange, Massachusetts, involve a long parade of giant puppets through the center of town.  A farm truck  tows revelers playing Thin Lizzy loudly, and your shirt feels sleeveless, spiritually.  Your sideburns ghost down over your cheeks, regardless of your gender.  A friend has manned the sweaty interior of the broad-assed mayoral figurine in prior years–this year, he’s elsewhere, celebrating with others.  The fog grows in the streets. But the evening really begins in a parking lot, a church parking lot, where you eat mediocre Chinese food out of a bag in the front seat of a Honda Fit, double parked behind a minivan.  The New Year tastes like MSG.  The New Year is already giving you heartburn.  The New…