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Member since: Sat Nov 30, 2013, 04:06 AM
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Writing about food: David Sedaris, Halloween candy (from "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim).

"The night after Halloween, we were sitting around watching TV when the doorbell rang ... to discover the entire Tomkey family on our front stoop. ... 'So, well, I guess we're trick-or-treating now, if that's okay,' Mr. Tomkey said. ... Asking for candy on Halloween was called trick-or-treating, but asking for candy on November first was called begging, and it made people uncomfortable. 'Why of course it's not too late,' my mother said. 'Kids, why don't you ... run and get ... the candy.' 'But the candy is gone,' my sister Gretchen said, 'You gave it away last night.' 'Not that candy,' my mother said. 'The other candy. Why don't you run and go get it?' 'You mean our candy?' Lisa said. 'The candy that we earned?'

"I knew that it was just a matter of time before she came into my room and started collecting the candy herself, grabbing indiscriminately, with no regard to my rating system. Had I been thinking straight, I would have hidden the most valuable items in my dresser drawer, but instead, panicked by the thought of her hand on my doorknob, I tore off the wrappers and began cramming the candy bars into my mouth, desperately, like someone in a contest. Most were miniature, which made them easier to accommodate, but still there was only so much room, and it was hard to chew and fit more in at the same time. ... I began breaking wax lips and candy necklaces pulled from pile no 2. These were the second-best things I had received, and while it hurt to destroy them, it would have hurt even more to give them away. I had just started to mutilate a miniature box of Red Hots when my mother pried them from my hands, accidentally finishing the job for me. BB-size pellets clattered onto the floor, and as I followed them with my eyes, she snatched up a roll of Necco wafers. ... Along with Necco wafers she took several Tootsie Pops and half a dozen caramels wrapped in cellophane. I heard her apologize to the Tomkeys for her absence, and then I heard my candy hitting the bottom of their bags."

Writing about food: the funeral dinner from Joris-Karl Huysmans' "Against Nature."

"One of these meals, modeled on an eighteenth-century original, had been a funeral feast to mark the most ludicrous of personal misfortunes. The dining-room, draped in black, opened out on to a garden metamorphosed for the occasion, the paths being basalt and filled with ink, and the shrubberies replanted with cypresses and pines. The dinner itself was served on a black cloth adorned with baskets of violets and scabious; candelabra shed an eerie green light over the table and tapers flickered in the chandeliers. ... Dining off black-bordered plates, the company had enjoyed turtle soup, Russian rye bread, ripe olives from Turkey, caviar, mullet botargo, black puddings from Frankfurt. game served in sauces the color of liquorice and boot-polish, truffle jellies, chocolate creams, plum-puddings, nectarines, pears in grape juice syrup, mulberries and black heart-cherries. From dark tinted glasses, they had drunk the wines of Limagne and Roussillon, of Tenedos, Valdepanas and Oporto. And after coffee and walnut cordial, they had rounded off the evening with knass, porter and stout. On the invitations, which were similar to those sent out before more solemn obsequies, this dinner was described as a funeral banquet in memory of the host's virility, lately but only temporarily deceased."

Writing about food: Bram Stoker's "Dracula"

"We left in pretty good time, and came after nightfall to Klausenburgh. Here I stopped for the night at the Hotel Royale. I had for dinner, or rather supper, a chicken done up some way with red pepper, which was very good but thirsty. (Mem., get recipe for Mina.) I asked the waiter, and he said it was called 'paprika hendl,' and that, as it was the national dish, I should be able to get it anywhere along the Carpathians. ... I did not sleep well, though my bed was comfortable enough, for I had all sorts of queer dreams. There was a dog howling all night under my window, which may have had something to do with it; or it may have been the paprika, for I had to drink up all the water in my carafe, and was still thirsty. ... I had for breakfast more paprika, and a sort of porridge of maize flour, which they said was 'mamaliga' and egg-plant stuffed with forcemeat, a very excellent dish, which they call 'impletata,' (Mem., get recipe for this also.)

"There are many odd things to put down, and, lest who reads them may fancy that I dined too well before I left Bistritz, let me put down my dinner exactly. I dined on what they call 'robber steak' -- bits of bacon, onion, and beef, seasoned with red pepper, and strung on sticks and roasted over the fire, in the simple style of the London cat's-meat! The wine was Golden Mediasch, which produces a queer sting on the tongue, which is, however, not disagreeable.

"He insisted on carrying my traps along the passage, and then up a great winding stair, and along another great passage, on whose stone floor our steps rang heavily. At the end of this he threw open a heavy door, and I rejoiced to see within a well-lit room in which a table was spread for supper, and on whose mighty hearth a great fire of logs flamed and flared. ... My host, who stood on one side of the great fireplace, leaning against the stone-work, made a graceful wave of his hand to the table, and said: 'I pray you, be seated and sup how you please. You will, I trust, excuse me that I do not join you; but I have dined already, and I do not sup.' The Count himself came forward and took off the cover of a dish, and I fell to at once on an excellent roast chicken. This, with some cheese and a salad and a bottle of old Tokay, of which I had two glasses, was my supper. During the time I was eating it the Count asked me many questions as to my journey, and I told him by degrees all I had experienced."

Writing about food: "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

"The schoolmaster ... is apt to occasion some little stir at the tea-table of a farmhouse, and the addition of a supernumerary dish of cakes or sweetmeats, or, peradventure, the parade of the silver teapot. ... Another of his sources of fearful pleasure was to pass long winter evenings with the old Dutch wives, as they sat spinning by the fire, with a row of apples roasting and spluttering along the hearth, and listen to their marvelous tales of ghosts and goblins, and haunted fields, and haunted brooks, and haunted bridges, and haunted houses, and particularly of the headless horseman, or Galloping Hessian of the Hollow, as they sometimes called him.

"The forests had put on their sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the tenderer kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple, and scarlet. Streaming files of wild ducks began to make their appearance high in the air; the bark of the squirrel might be heard from the groves of beech and hickorynuts, and the pervasive whistle of the quail at intervals from the neighboring stubble field. ... As Ichabod jogged slowly on his way, his eye ... ranged with delight over every symptom of culinary abundance, ranged with delight over the treasures of jolly autumn. On all sides be beheld vast stores of apples; some hanging in oppressive opulence on the trees; some gathered into baskets and barrels for the market; others heaped up in rich piles for the cider-press. Further on he beheld great fields of Indian corn, with its golden ears peeping from their leafy coverts, and holding out the promise of cakes and hasty pudding and the yellow pumpkins lying beneath them, turning up their fair round bellies to the sun, and giving ample prospects of the most luxurious of pies; and anon he passed the fragrant buckwheat fields breathing the odor of the beehive, and as he beheld them, soft anticipations stole over his mind of dainty slapjacks, well buttered, and garnished with honey or treacle ... .

"Such heaped up platters of cakes of various and almost indescribable kinds, known only to experienced Dutch housewives! There was the doughty doughnut, the tender oly koek, and the crisp and crumbling cruller; sweet cakes and short cakes, ginger cakes and honey cakes, and the whole family of cakes. And then there were apple pies, and peach pies, and pumpkin pies; besides slices of ham and smoked beef; and moreover delectable dishes of preserved plums, and peaches, and pears, and quinces; not to mention broiled shad and roasted chickens; together with bowls of milk and cream, all mingled higgledy-piggledy, pretty much as I have enumerated them, with the motherly teapot sending up its clouds of vapor from the midst -- Heaven bless the mark!"

Writing about food: Laura Ingalls Wilder, "The Long Winter"

"'Hurry and get the work done,' said Ma. 'And then, Laura, you go to the corn-patch and bring me a green pumpkin. I'm going to make a pie!' ... Then Laura ran through the cool, misty rain to the corn-patch and lugged back the biggest green pumpkin. ... Ma put the crust in the pie pan and covered the bottom with brown sugar and spices. Then she filled the crust with thin slices of the green pumpkin. She poured half a cup of vinegar over them, put a small piece of butter on top, and laid the top crust over all. ... They ate slowly, taking small bites of the sweet spiciness to make it last as long as they could.

"'I'm glad I put beans to soak last night,' said Ma. She lifted the lid of the bubbling kettle and quickly popped in a spoonful of soda. The boiling beans roared, foaming up, but did not quite run over. 'There's a little bit of salt pork to put in them too,' Ma said. Now and then she spooned up a few beans and blew on them. When their skins split and curled, she drained the soda-water from the kettle and filled it again with water. She put in the bit of fat pork. ... The little shanty quivered in the storm. But the steamy smell of boiling beans was good and it seemed to make the air warmer. At noon Ma sliced bread and filled bowls with the hot bean broth and they all ate where they were, close to the stove. They all drank cups of strong, hot tea. ... Then Ma emptied the beans into a milk-pan, set the bit of fat pork in the middle, and laced the top with dribbles of molasses. They would have baked beans for supper.

"The black iron hopper in the top of the mill held half a cupful of the grain. ... The mill gave out its grinding noise. 'Wheat will grind just like coffee,' Ma said. She looked into the little drawer. The broken bits of wheat were crushed out flat. ... 'Can you make bread out of that?' Pa asked. 'Of course I can,' Ma replied. ... The brown bread that Ma made from the ground wheat was very good. It had a fresh, nutty flavor that almost seemed to take the place of butter."

Writing about food: Ray Bradbury's "Dandelion Wine."

"Grandma, he had often wanted to say, Is this where the world began? ... Eyes shut to let his nose wander, he snuffed deeply. ... He saw bread waiting to be cut into slices of warm summer cloud, doughnuts strewn like clown hoops from some edible game. The faucets turned on and off in his cheeks. Here on the plum-shadowed side of the house with maple leaves making a creek-water running in the hot wind at the window he read spice-cabinet names. ... 'Cayenne, marjoram, cinnamon.' The names of lost and fabulous cities through which storms of spice bloomed up and dusted away. ... And looking at one single label on a jar ... The word was RELISH. ... RELISH! What a special name for the minced pickle sweetly crushed in its white-capped jar. ... He put out his hand. And here was -- SAVORY. ... 'Savory ... that's a swell word. And Basil and Betel. Capsicum. Curry. All great. But Relish, now, Relish with a capital R. No argument, that's the best.'

"If asked about her cooking, Grandma would look down at her hands which some glorious instinct sent on journeys to be gloved in flour, or to plumb disencumbered turkeys, wrist-deep in search for their animal souls. Her gray eyes blinked frorm spectacles warped by forty years of oven blasts and blinded with strewings of pepper and sage, so she sometimes flung cornstarch over steaks, amazingly tender, succulent steaks! And sometimes dropped apricots into meat loaves, cross-pollinated meats, herbs, fruits, vegetables with no prejudice, no tolerance for recipe or formula, save that at the final moment of delivery, mouths watered, blood thundered in response. Her hands then, like the hands of Great-grandma before her, were Grandma's mystery, delight, and life. She looked at them in astonishment, but let them live their life the way they must absolutely lead it."

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