poor man’s feast-elissa altman

“Everyone had the politics down pat; that was the easy part. It was the actual cooking that no one bothered with.” (192)

“is the soup ready yet?”

homemade soup is one of those things that’s simple and good. its only drawback (gasp!) is that it takes time to make. in this day and age-that seems unacceptable. why can’t fresh healthy soup be ready at the snap of the fingers and a tetrapack? because it can’t, dumdums-it just can’t. the thing is, it’s not really even that hard to do-everyone should try it. i’ve spent all of my food retailing days in establishments where fresh soup is made on the premises, and thus, i’ve spent all of my food retailing days having to express to people that no, it is not ready as early as 7:30am (shit, the fact that we’re sometimes ready to go at 10:30 is miraculous to me)-the onions still need to be chopped lovingly into stock. as i go through this season of detoxing and undoing and dealing with the anger that will no longer be contained by my skin, i think a lot about the soup that i’m making. i’ve been through about a million skin cells and many internal and external changes and though i know i’m doing the right thing, sometimes i really want a damn stimulant (tcho mocachino chocolate bar, i see you)

this book was recommended to me by a new co-worker, and i admit that i came into it with some serious misconceptions (considering that i was coming to it from animal, vegetable, miracle) based on its title. i did finish it, begrudgingly. ok-mostly i was shamed by another new coworker for judging it too prematurely and got to the end mostly to be able to complain about it knowledgeably. i’ve never been so aware of the third-person memoir, and honestly-this was like listening to a person blather on and on about her partner for 300 pages (i forget how long the book actually is, but this is how long it felt). you know-that person that responds to every question with “well, when susan was a baby..” except that in this case, you didn’t even ask any questions.

as i negotiated the literal boundaries of my body, i was reading about the author’s figurative (bordering on literal) boundaries with her family and her partner’s family and ex-partner which, frankly, sounded fucking awful. i’m not one to feel any traditional obligation to family, and i’ve had a go of it with my partner’s family, but shit-at least my partner’s mother doesn’t call on the hour and show up at the doorstep when she doesn’t get an answer, and my partner’s ex-partner isn’t constantly trying to befriend me-that would make me crazy for real. the idea of overbearing mothers is pervasive and it almost makes me feel better that though i have no mother, at least i don’t have one that does this:

“So great is her obsession with weight-whether hers or mine-that whenever I stay overnight at her house, even now, she regularly checks the tags on my clothes to see what size I’m wearing, so I clip them off to avoid discussion.” (151)

wow. neuroses is cause and effect. the one moment that i felt was worth pause was the consideration of food’s role in grieving, as it was very much the grieving of food as well as her father. i agree with the experience of food, and the necessity of sharing food with your loved ones, but that’s about it. i maintain that naming your book “poor man’s feast” and then sharing complicated recipes that involve expensive appliances from your time spent working at dean & deluca is a bit misleading. and no, i’m not going to check out the blog to see how it’s possibly different from this supposed compilation/evolution of it. so put that in your pipe and smoke it, paul.

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