Pic still pending.
Finding myself frustrated by things recently. Life and myself, generally, are very well – the best it has been in years (the personal, barring worldwide externalities). But a peeve has been needling at me. It has nothing to do with what I’ll tap here. My notebook is at home, where it belongs, where it is safe. But, this has been pending for several weeks…
It’s been nearing two months since presenting my final project for Food & Culture Studies graduate program. That was back on the morning of May 5th, followed by pink champagne and ‘Le Grand‘ at Balthazar with my muse, my patron, mon père, Monsieur – the only fitting way to celebrate such a feat.
After six years of school, through my so-called re-education, and through the intersession free reads, was chomping at the bit to read and re-read everything I hadn’t gotten to or read thoroughly during class terms. But it has been slow going to say the least. I’m stalled at not close to halfway on the second book, which is Ken Albala’s ‘Beans‘. It’s a fast moving survey, part pop, part academic, though surely more scholarly or teacherly in its language, of various beans from around the world and through the ages. I’m about through with his chapter on favas.
But am thinking perhaps is fine time to break from an airs-inducing volume and return to Kurlansky. Though Mark Kurlasky is a well-respected senior member of the food, food writing & journalism, and food history worlds, his works – ‘The Big Oyster‘, ‘Cod‘, ‘Salt‘ as well as ‘Basque History of the World‘, all on my present ‘forever free and escape from 9-5’ read list – were nowhere to be found on any syllabi for classes I took during the entire program. He lives somewhere in Gotham, I’m sure I’ve seen him at some event, but he remains elusive, at least online. Google: ‘Mark Kurlansky’. No contact information available, no Facebook page, no website. His general bio is listed on a publisher’s site. But that is it.
(Thinking of the fresh figs, blackberries and black truffle cheese I am going to snack on when I get home this evening.)
When I started freelancing earlier this month, I was barely trudging through ‘The Big Oyster’. Then, I resumed a lunchtime run at Oyster Bar at Grand Central. I love it there. Creamed spinach with any sandwich special, but is advised to change it up from day to day, or try a bisque or a pan roast, or a fish special – a personal pact required dishes be 15 and under, though I broke that the last lunch ordering a dish for 22, which surprises me, it is very easy to do with dishes upwards of 30. Regardless, be sure to always order the creamed spinach. I’d say it rivals, or is likely better than, Peter Luger’s creamed spinach.
(Wondering if I need witness protection for the last statement).
So, at the start of the present Oyster Bar fettish, er, round, I was just approaching the later 19th century in Kurlansky. Returning to the land of the fiscally solvent, even in cavernous Gotham midtown, found myself feeling very part of this something bigger than myself. Kurlansky knit quite a yarn of Gotham – great and gastric, seafaring, tumultuous, murderous, prostitutionous, wheeling, dealing, always smelly place, be it fresh like, virgin airs of new found land and Gotham harbor, or rotting and blood, piss, shit – as our story progressed through the ages.
It wasn’t Kurlansky at all that begged a synergy with midtown and Oyster bar to read through. I am craving (gasping for air) literature. I’ve been reading about food – its history, culture, agriculture, pulling all-night conspiracy-HFCS reading tirades, nutrition (remember folks, tube feeds do not equal food), cell, mitochondria and their green kin, chloroplasts, for six years (redundant comment, I know, I still cannot quite grasp, ‘no more classes’, for now). There’s a ‘find time for lit’ read list that is so grossly overdue. It includes Twain, Alger, Hemmingway, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck, Laurence, Miller, Thompson, Robbins, Murakami, Austen, – even and including the recently published Austen with zombies tome – Sand, Colette, Woolf, Plath; I have also been rumbling over a hankering for the Talented Mister Ripley series conjured by Patricia Highsmith. Doggit. I will read some literary literature!
Perhaps first.. There’s a very important ‘grow my brain at all costs’ read list, including more Brand – his ‘Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto’ is on pre-order with Amazon, but I NEED to re-read ‘Clock of the Long Now’ that I make reference to often, ‘How Buildings Learn’ which is how I experience spaces around me (literally), and finally get eyeballs to ‘The Media Lab’. More recently, thanks to some articles published on/in Wired (.com/mag), I discovered that another essay I am working on dealing with ‘flat heirarchies’ in the workplace (unpublished, in progress, seeking publisher) is not altogether off target. Though it still lacks eloquence and a firm backbone. The Wired article, from issue 17.06, discusses Thomas Malone’s ‘The Future of Work’; in it he has written on ‘loose heirarchies’. His is a top priority. Thank you for that, Wired.
I will return to Albala and his ‘Beans’ and his ‘Pancake’ too. I will put more thorough eyeballs to his ‘Eating Right in the Renaissance’, as well at Mintz’ ‘Sweetness and Power’, and Shapiro’s ‘Perfection Salad’. I will enter the halls of the truly food-read and finally finish Fisher, David and Brillat-Savarin. Hades, even the pile of Trillin on my coffee table in need of a good sand and refinish sits mostly neglected.
But today, I believe it is time to break out of my shell (achem). From the neat row sitting on the corner of Moby Desk, tonight, I will reach again for Steinbeck. As life has succeeded to keep me where I am, ‘The Long Valley’ will take me to the other home that continues to elude me.