Today we honor all veterans. Every day I try to honor these veterans.
Happy Friday, y’all! I have had three stinking songs stuck in my head since Tuesday and I thought I’d share the love. Usually my internal iTunes is on “shuffle,” but this week it’s been stuck like Chuck.
First up is Eminem’s “Slim Shady.” I totally blame my home girl, Lizzie, for this one. Feel free to give her the squinty evil eye. (Totes NSFW unless you work in a strip club or Hollister)
Secondly, a little more benign and higher in quality on the musical scale is Radiohead’s “Karma Police.” I’m almost grateful for this one, I just wish some other equally good tunes would join it and kick the other two out of my dingdong head.
The last one is a humdinger (pun ‘tended) … it is uh … uhm … and uh … uhm … uh … uhm … and uh … not Commerce … there’s… and … hmmm … and uh … well… and uh … uhm … and … it’s uh … uhm … and … uh … and… and hmmmmmmmmmm… uhm … uh … uhm … and uh … there’s… and … uhm … not Education … and uh … well… and uh … let’s see… and … it’s uh … uhm … Oops. (Yes, I crack myself up.)
“The Jeffersons” theme song, “Movin’ on Up.”
Sorry folks, I couldn’t resist. What’s your earworm today?
As you continue to read our six-month selection, Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, mark your calendars for the next book club selection: Thursday, January 12, 2012. Also, comments will remain open ’til the cows come home for the discussion of Spoon Fed, so feel free to add your two cents anytime. Join the conversation ovah here.
Until then, currently on my to-be-read list is the following:
As you can see, I’m woefully lacking in the area of light-hearted, humorous titles and would love to hear your recommendations – fiction or memoirs, preferably.
The titles you propose will also go into the hopper for consideration for our next book club selection, so a little bit about why you endorse the book(s) might be helpful, too!
I’m excited to see (and read) your suggestions!
While Kelly takes a little hiatus this week from the Friday Music Buffet kitchen, I feel woozy with power and have decided to go there. YES, the MUSICAL. Kelly warned you that I am a TOTAL and complete dork and when you think of me, you should imagine me humming a show tune. FOR. REAL.
I could shut down our server embedding and streaming clips from musicals, but I’ll be gentle with you (and our ISP) and only pick a handful of my favorites. This is almost like picking a favorite child or sibling or food. Almost.
“Tell me about it, stud.”
“Getting there is half the fun, come share it with me”
“Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes”
“Smoke on your pipe and put that in …”
“It’s just a jump to the left …”
“And, the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true”
What are some of your favorite musicals? Songs?
Below are twelve leading questions and/or statements regarding the book. In the comments below, either note which number you’re responding to/commenting on, or just go to town with any ideas or thoughts you may have. If your comment is in response to any others, please be sure to note that as well!
If you haven’t previously commented on Swiss Army Wives, there may be some lag time in your comments appearing. Please be patient, and once one of your comments is approved, you can comment on the site whenever you like, just be sure to remember the email and username you used to post your comment. It’s that easy! It goes without saying, but I gotta say it, be nice and play well with the others. Just because you disagree with someone doesn’t mean they’re wrong, it simply means you disagree. Got it?
And, away we go!
1. Kim Severson’s personal trajectory is hers alone, but the life lessons she learns in the book can, in fact, apply to a broad number of people with an array of lifestyles and personal stories. How do these lessons apply to you? Which struck you as the most true or useful?
2. The most important lessons she learns from these cooks turn out not be cooking lessons, in fact, but larger lessons about how to live: don’t compare yourself with others; be yourself; start over when necessary; have patience and perseverance; etc. Is it significant that many of these lessons come in the presence of food? That they are learned in the context of preparing or sharing food? Why?
3. Severson compares the family dinner to a “modern-day tribal fire” (p. 26), though she and one of her mentors, Marion Cunningham, also agree that “the simple act of cooking and eating together seems to be increasingly rare” (p. 25). What role does the ritual of dinner play in your family dynamic? Is the home cooked meal essential to the family dynamic, or can it be replaced by some other ritual? Are modern eating habits reshaping American families?
4. When Severson first becomes a food critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, she must learn to articulate what she likes and why, a task more difficult than it might seem. One thing that complicates this task is “taste memory” (p. 49)—Severson likes Hershey’s not because it’s quality chocolate, but because it reminds her of her mother’s chocolate cake. Another difficulty is taste hierarchy—some foods might require a more sophisticated palate than others. Then again, Severson gives us this James Beard quote: “A hot dog or a truffle. Good is good” (p. 48). How do acquired tastes like truffle and wine compare to the “unadulterated joy” (p. 47) we experience when eating a Hershey’s bar or a hot dog? Is it possible to separate taste from memory?
5. Alice Waters, one of Severson’s mentors and often considered a founder of the modern food movement, insists that the American public school curriculum should—and can—be revolutionized to teach kids about agriculture and utilize local produce in the lunch program. Severson finds Waters’s idealism both maddening and inspiring. Does unwavering optimism, even about unrealistic demands, help or hinder the achievement of goals? Should one ever compromise on one’s ideals?
6. Do you agree with Severson’s belief that one can “tell any story, large or small, through food” (p. 101)? What, if anything, can dining habits tell us about a person? Does the saying “you are what you eat” hold true for Severson?
7. Severson travels to her family’s village in Italy to find her ancestors’ original red sauce recipe. What is the deeper purpose of Severson’s culinary journey? What does she hope to discover by tracing the “red sauce trail” (p. 132)?
8. Throughout her memoir, Severson uses the word “faith” in various contexts. There’s the faith she has in God, to whom she prays to maintain her sobriety. There’s the faith she experiences when she marvels at the existence of golden beets and cacao pods, the beauty and diversity of life. Severson even believes that faith is implicit in cooking, because of the trust required when executing a recipe and the communion that a shared meal brings. Is hers a religious definition of faith? What do Leah Chase and Hurricane Katrina teach Severson about faith?
9. Severson’s friend Scott Peacock, a young gay chef, becomes the unlikely friend and caretaker of Edna Lewis, the grand-dame of Southern cooking. Their relationship challenges traditional notions of family, as does Severson’s own marriage to her wife. What, for Severson, constitutes a family? Can family be determined by shared belief and understanding as much as by ancestry? Do we have automatic duties to our blood relatives?
10. Severson identifies with Rachael Ray because of their common small-town roots and enormous ambition. What does success mean to each woman? For Severson, how do professional success and public approval relate to personal satisfaction?
11. How would you characterize Severson’s relationship with her mother at the end of the memoir, and how does it differ from their earlier relationship? What changes or compromises must they each make to reach this point? What have they each learned?
12. Ultimately, why does food play such an important role in Severson’s life? Why is Severson more receptive to the wisdom of these eight female chefs than to the advice of her family and friends? Why does Severson choose to end her book in a scene not with one of the chefs, but with her mother?
I’m sorry, Houston-area book clubbers. I dearly and sincerely wanted to host a local get together to do some wine-sipping and thought-sharing, but alas, it isn’t to be. Work has me hogtied until the week of Thanksgiving, and soccer, softball, and piano performances rule my weekend hours. If I had any time to give, it would be yours, but the tank is empty, and the station is closed.
However, PLEASE join us for the online discussion tomorrow, and please know this: I promise to do better next time. Really. I do. I REALLY DO. Have faith. Don’t stop believin’.
Listen up, Easy Company! This is just too good of a deal not to share with y’all.
I’ll keep this brief, but wanted to let you in on a screamin’ deal from canvaspeople.com: A free 8×10 canvas with your photo of choice, you just pay shipping and handling.
I took advantage of this for Fathers’ Day this year and (spoiler alert!) will likely do it again for a Christmas gift.
A BIG caveat: the canvases tend to print out in hyper-real color (see below), so be sure to pick a photo that if the color is a bit too bright or wonky you won’t care.
Click here for the link. Happy canvas making!