Monthly Archives: March 2013

Plenty Favourites

I have taken a bit of a respite from my taco tour, and have been cooking at home. Including some of my favourites from Plenty! For me, the hands down winner (although not the most recent time I made it) was the roasted cauliflower with olives and raisins and saffron. In a recent dinner that involved several dishes from Plenty, the clear winner was roasted sweet potato and parsnip with a caper vinaigrette. I would eat that every day if I felt like wrestling with our unpredictable oven and peeling and chopping vegetables. Until I remembered the Portobello mushrooms with Taleggio. How could I forget about these delicious mushrooms with sun-dried tomatoes, onion, celery and Taleggio? They are the most delicious thing I have ever eaten. If I hadn’t bought all the ingredients myself, I would swear there was bacon in the sun-dried tomatoes. Or in the cheese, which is a salty cheese with a brie-like texture. That’s how delicious they are.

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Lizzie Bennet Diairies

I have made some excellent progress watching the Lizzie Bennet diaries while prepping for my thesis defense. As an adaptation of a literary classic, that interacts with new media, and creates an entire alternate world through youtube, facebook and twitter, it resonates with some of my thesis topics.

There, got the justification out of the way. There are many things a person could comment on about this series but my biggest questions are around race and gender: the show is aware of these questions, and in its FAQ section attempts to justify its position. If they were less keen to be seen in a positive light (from the perspective of critical race and gender theories) it would bother me so much less.

In part of the FAQ the show justifies the use of the word “slut” because up until Rush Limbaugh this word had no negative connotations. (REALLY???) Another answer attests that they are ashamed that it took many episodes to pass the Bechdel test, in which two women talk to one another about something other than a man. I ask: if they can adapt a novel to such an extent that it includes twitter, people living together prior to/rather than getting married (reflecting the 21st century), can they not also adapt it to include more conversations between women about topics other than men? Alternate option: acknowledge that the novel is what it is.

The series (in this same FAQ area) also proclaims itself to be diverse and explains that because they wanted to imbue the show with racial diversity they chose to set it in Southern California. Problem 1: All the interactions centre on the Bennet family, which is a family of redheads. When other characters come on set they only talk about the Bennets. In this sense it fails the racial Bechdel test. Problem 2: The series (like most film and television) is not as racially diverse as California (in a State where “Hispanic” people will soon become the census majority, they are no “Hispanic” characters). Problem 3: The show glows with pride over its Asian characters. The Bennet family’s friends, Bing and Caroline Lee, as well as Charlotte and Maria Yu, are Asian. Cool. Where I sit, in front of my computer, watching these ever so addictive three or four minute episodes, it seems like the Asian-American characters who get the most airtime are those who look least typically Asian. (Sidebar: people can identify however they want. I have to wonder if the actors the show identifies as Asian would identify themselves that way. Perhaps, as their biographies and interviews suggest, they themselves want to play interesting roles, and not serve as accessories to the primary plotline) 

This suggests that the show expects its viewers to be interested in issues of race and gender, but that they are not interested in engaging with either (the show/audience wants to appear “progressive” while maintaining the status quo).

Mexico City

José Revueltas betrays the fact that in spite of his origins in the Mexican State of Durango, he is a “chilango odioso,” who knows he is better than others because he is from Mexico City.

“A primera vista pareciera como si únicamente la ciudad de México fuese el centro vivo —y esto, también, un poco relativamente— y lo demás una extensión al margen, fuera de los grandes sucesos y sumergida en un sueño compacto, mortal y asfixiante”

“At first glance it seems that only Mexico City is the living centre —and a relative one, at that— and that everything else is an extension at the margin, away from important events and immersed in a compact, mortal and suffocating sleep.”

José Revueltas, “Viaje al noroeste de México,” 1943. (Visión del Paricutín y otras crónicas y reseñas).

 

Dejà vu

This week I had two moments of Dejà vu. On Tuesday afternoon I went to go get my grad photos taken (good thing they sent an email reminder), and as I was getting ready, putting on my button down white shirt, as specified, I reached for a pair of earrings and realized that they were the same earrings that I had worn for my last round of grad photos so I decided to switch it up. This first dejà vu led to the second. After the grad photos, I went to my office to proofread my powerpoint slides for the class I was going to teach, taught my class, and on my way home stopped by the library to pick up a book that had come in for me. (Spoiler alert: Beethoven was one sixteenth black is not as good as the cover). Then, I decided to go through the stacks and pick out a nice book to fall asleep to. Unfortunately, the fact that is is a very small library, close to the subway and close to school means that I have read most of the books that would be of interest to me. I saw a book with a nice white-ish cover, not to cheesy, not Harlequin yet not too taxing, and by an author I’d read books by before. Then it turns out that I’d already read it. Time to switch libraries.

Aside

1. Seeing a person jaywalking. In a wheelchair. Is this jaychairing? So Toronto. 2. Seeing a man leaving church, say to other man, asking for money on the church steps: I can’t give you money because I don’t want to … Continue reading

Life Goal

My new life goal, since having completed the Plenty project, is to acquire the complete works of José Revueltas. This is a goal that will take me out of the kitchen and grocery stores of all kinds, and into the world of used bookstores, my absolute favourite kind of store. I have decided that this is an acceptable life goal because it does not only involve consumerism. It involves intellectually pretentious consumerism, and acquiring the complete works of the most troubling author I include in my thesis.

This writer’s complete works include his essays about communism in Mexico, his novels and short stories, and his thoughts from his times in prison. Every time I read Revueltas I go one step closer to communism, and one step further away from ever wanting to be friends with him (were such a thing possible) (he seems a little bit too committed to communism, the kind of person who would sacrifice everything for his ideals – admirable, but not entirely practical).

The reason why this is a life goal is because many of the works are out of print. Some have been reprinted in recent years, and I, in my foolishness, did not buy them when I had the chance. This is a common problem with Mexican books, in fact: they do not have very large printings and so can be impossible to find after a few years. It is also a life goal because it will involve perseverance, tenacity and spending copious amounts of time in used bookstores in Mexico City.

Plenty Update

Today I am posting about Torontian food, or at least food that I have cooked in Toronto. That mix of food is perfected in Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook.  I got this cookbook as a gift for Christmas in 2011, and after I realized that everything I made from it was delicious, I decided to make all of it. I finished this project the day after I handed in my thesis, and brought soufflé to a potluck.

blood oranges: a real fruit. who knew?

salad of chard, blood oranges, radicchio, ricotta and deliciousness

This was a worthwhile project for several reasons. The first, is that the food was delicious. The second, was that it exposed me to new kinds of food. The third, it gave me something quantifiable to do while working on my thesis. The fourth, it allowed me to make and share food with others. And finally, it let me eat delicious food all by myself.