Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Life Is Just A Bowl Of ...

Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, wrote “things fall apart; the center cannot hold,” and I all can say is “You called that one right, buddy.” Starting last fall I went on a massive organizational attack of “getting it all under control” once and for all. I have four blogs. I was going to write. I like writing. Then. Oh. I don’t know. I was evacuated during a hurricane. I had two eye surgeries. I broke a rib. My heart and mind took poundings harder than that sand, wind and rain that I endured. People left. People died. You want to talk leaving? That is leaving. In my defense, the house looked great at Christmas. I survived the hurricane. “My house is decorated for Spring and looks pretty,” (she said…voice trailing off).

One thing I have kept up with is my reading. As the years pass, more and more, I find I turn to non-fiction, as opposed to the fiction choices of my youth. I once attended a PEN-Faulkner reading at the Folger Shakespeare Library to hear Don DeLillo and he confessed to the same. I will admit I re-read Dorothy Sayers Gaudy Night this week. Gaudy Night is a British mystery novel, written in 1936, set in Oxford. I was craving the passage Sayers wrote about a woman studying a man she cares for, watching him while he sleeps in the boat on a drowsy afternoon on the River Isis. It truly is one of the more passionate things ever written (in my opinion) in terms of how a woman feels about a man’s body:

“…but now she saw details, magnified as it were by some glass in her own mind. The flat setting and fine scroll-work of the ear, and the height of the skull above it. The glitter of close-cropped hair where the neck-muscles lifted to meet the head. A minute sickle-shaped scar on the left temple. The faint laughter-lines at the corner of the eye and the droop of the lid at its outer end. The gleam of gold down on the cheek-bone. The wide spring of the nostril. An almost imperceptible beading of sweat on the upper lip and a tiny muscle that twitched the sensitive corner of the mouth. The slight sun-reddening of the fair skin and its sudden whiteness below the base of the throat. The little hollow above the points of the collarbone. He looked up; and she was instantly scarlet, as though she had been dipped in boiling water. Through the confusion of her darkened eyes and drumming ears some enormous bulk seemed to stoop over her. Then the mist cleared. His eyes were riveted upon the manuscript again, but he breathed as thought he had been running.” That, my friends, is a passage that captures passion. It also explains volumes, to those men who think they understand the female mind so well, just how women do feel about men’s bodies. Our eyes are not glommed onto what you might expect. The woman who wrote that? Plain as a boiled Sunday supper.

A still Isis runs deep

I order most books via the intralibrary loan system, because I often can’t find what I want to read, and I no longer have full blown access to the Library of Congress. Sometimes, I’ll idle around the “new” shelves and pluck at random, never with much hope. I was getting books ready to go back to the library later today. I have The Bush Tragedy waiting, and some other books. I just finished Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.’s Journals from 1952 to 2000. That was a treat. I tracked down all of the Cormac McCarthy books I hadn’t read. That was a mixed blessing. His writing is perfection. His apolcalyptic visions can become so oppressive, you have to walk away and find reaffirmations in humanity, the best way you can. Either that, or invest in good weaponry.

I’ll give it to you…fast and hot.

Just yesterday, when I was going through books needing to be returned to the library, I put aside Nigella Express: 130 Recipes For Good Food, Fast by Nigella Lawson. Nigella is one of those television food performers who spends a lot of time in the kitchen showing what Ms. Sayers would call an inordinate amount of bosom, and she spends a lot of time….licking things under a vaselined lens. Goujons of Sole, rated R.

Ms. Lawson had been widowed from a highly regarded journalist, but is now married to a well known advertising mogul, Charles Saatchi (think £££££,) so why she isn’t lounging around having oiled slave boys bring her nibbly things, *clapclap* I’ll never know. I realized that I had read all of her books, never cared for one of them, never made a recipe from one of them, and had to wonder what I was doing with the latest.

Nigella Express is the usual. A lot of photographs of her wearing tight sweaters or bathrobes (don’t we all cook that way?) One page of the book was nothing but this. I was baffled.

Proof that she isn’t a victim of bad British dental hygiene courtesy of the National Health?

….as opposed to…..

I realized while flipping through the receipes that there was a lot of repetition of food types: fried, oily things, greasy cuts of meat (invariably shown with beans,) pureed soups that are often green, molten chocolate thingies and then a slew of what I put into the slop-glop-plop school of cooking, but the British have evolved into whimsical names like...

...treacle pudding

...and syllabub jumble

...and jumbleberry crumble

...and Eton Mess

and roly poly and steamed spotted dick . I was trying to explain the concept behind steamed spotted dick just the other day.

Never mind the bollocks, where's your spotted dick?

Then there was this mess: "Ginger Passion Fruit Trifle," which reminded me very much of going to the creek as a child in the Spring and gathering up frog eggs:

You never see frogs anymore. Now you know why. Actually it’s an environmental pollution thing, but you just never know, do you?

Cooking is about balance and harmony." ~~ Nigella Lawson

"Please Sir? Can I have some more?"

Sure you can, Pete…and you’ll be on the bowl for a fortnight.

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Blogger nutty said...

true enough (your comment about charlton heston on my blog)

Never mind the bollocks, where's your spotted dick?

you don't really hear that over here...


1:12 PM  
Blogger Pigtown-Design said...

After working at a boarding school in Wales, where I had a rumbly tummy every single day that I ate there, i am sooo off english food. then this easter, as a joke, my sister got me some canned spotted dick from world market in rockville! canned spotted dick, i tell you! what's next!

at least nigella's cleaner looking than that bloody jamie oliver.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Nutty: I was paraphrasing The Sex Pistols, because its lead singer, Johnny Rotten, is another wonderful example of British denistry in action.

P-Town: I had forgotten your time spent in Britain, and you're right. I've seen spotted dick in the can, too. They've also probably got it at Rodman's in the international section. I use to see the oddest canned foods in London. I bought home one...a bright blue can with green graphics...and I know you will know this one...mushy peas. If we sat down and put our minds to it, I know we'd remember many more. I bought a friend a box of wine gums for Christmas.

Jamie Oliver is definitely cooking for Amy Winehouse. That girl looks filthy and vile to me. I fail to understand any interest or attraction to her.

I'm not "that" anti-Nigella, just don't take her very seriously as a cook.

As for those pictures you had the other day on your blog about Evergreen house...people...go to Pigtown Designs blog and look!

2:11 PM  
Blogger Lucky Loo said...

love your blog! Just started giggling out loud as I was reading it.My Grandmum used to send us cans of spotted dick growning up.Brought back some old memories!
thanks :D

7:27 PM  
Blogger WDCD/DRFS/aka Sue said...

I have to say...as bizarre looking as Amy Winehouse is...her voice is stunning. Like Nina Simone or something.

Nigella was on Graham Norton with Marilyn Manson once and that was pretty hysterical. I love that British humor...even if the food is somewhat questionable. I wonder if Gordon Ramsey would consider Nigella the equivalant of Rachel Ray? Anthony Bourdain has a huge thing about haterading on her. And for all his nastiness...I do enjoy Gordon Ramsey and his approach to fresh, local food. Simple ingredients, yeah?

9:47 PM  
Blogger Velvet said...

Damn! I was looking for that Winehouse pic for my anti-Amy post a while back. Well done!

We used to have a roaming can of Spotted Dick at one of the builders where I worked. It was funny that that can made its way through the office like "where's waldo."

10:41 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Lucky Loo: I peaked in at your blog, and I want to return. I saw some fascinating things. I think British food has blended in more with an American norm, but there are still oddities out there like haggis and baps. I would doubt many Brits even eat jellied eels any more.

Sue: I adore Nina Simone. Cannot stand Amy Winehouse. Whatever talent exists, she has long since trashed it. I am very big on fresh, seasonal eating, so food shows for the most part are a total waste on me....Paula Deen or Ina, for example. I enjoy British humor. It can be very lowbrow/schooboy, or two steps to the left of your brain sophisticated and witty. I remember being so proud when I made a stranger in a London street laugh out loud with my quip. "Gotcha," I thought.

10:43 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Velvet: I am so loving the way your readers (including me) just come over to your blog, plop down for the day and make ourselves at home. You got dip with that?

10:44 PM  
Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

What a wonderful post! Hey there aren't enough hours in a day to post to four blogs with this kind of quality and thoroughness.

when oh when will we ever learn that hardly anything is under our control? Give it up, do what you can, and for all the stuff that's uncontrollable, well, just let it go.

At least that's what I'm always telling myself. Take good care.

9:32 AM  
Blogger taleswapper said...

My favorite food over there was Mr. Brain's Pork Faggots.

Not favorite in the sense of actually eating it, you understand.

The other interesting thing about Lord Peter is that he's portrayed as not terribly macho and handsome himself. He's a short little guy suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome and he's kinda been stalking her. My favorite is the one about the bells: Nine Tailors.

9:43 AM  
Blogger All Things Bright and Beautiful... said...

Cube - youre back and its good to have you back in all your rambling glory:-) - I love it! We go from the National Congress Library to Nigella Amy to trifle and then Pete!
m so sorry that you have been through such a bad time - hopefully things will look up again now

Hugs bug
PS which are your other 4 blogs btw?

9:48 AM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Reya: I've had to learn about letting go of control over the years. Part of what I face now, which is causing the despair, is that I am so far in the hole of things needing to be taken care of, so that even if I do things...daily...it's never enough, and I never get the sense I am getting on top of any of it. I keep plugging away, though.

Taleswapper. I think this is your first visit here. I went over to read some of your blog, left a comment and will be back for more reading. I had never seen the pork faggots, but if it involves food from Britain, nothing surprises me. A friend and I went to see The Bank Job (film) last week. Both of us had spent long periods of time in London in our past. We both said, "I miss London," and I do. I haven't forgotten the downside of things, though. Part of my sentiments come from, I think, it was a happier time in my life. And..I am proud to say, I have walked all of the bridges and can navigate Finsbury Park to Bermondsey.
I went through a typical Cube phase where I discovered Dorothy Sayers and then read ALL of Sayers, including the religious work. I loved those three written close together: Murder Must Advertise, Gaudy Nights and Nine Tailors. Other's, like the one set in Scotland (Hangman's Holiday?)...drudgery. Nine Tailors was a good mystery, but also an education in bells and bell ringers. I love books like that, where you unexpectedly learn as you relax. Peter Whimsey has long fascinated me. Sayers didn't have a particularly good marriage, so this fantasy man of hers is...interesting.

Beautiful: Yeah, I'm back and still babbling on. I have a Boston Cube blog I haven't done anything with in a year (pre-surgery), I have a Cape Cod Cube that fell by the wayside post hurricane, although the newspaper up there did pick up some of my photographs, and the fourth is a secret...and shall remain so. I want those three activated and weekly reporting. Is that too much to ask of me? Meybbe so.

1:21 PM  

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