Thursday, July 27, 2006

Fattened Calf with Hatred

I’m guessing I’m not the target audience for this e-mail. Although the No examinations! No classes! No textbooks! does sound appealing…..

Hate studying?

Academic Qualifications available from prestigious NON-ACC REDITED uni

Do you have the knowledge and the experience but lack the qualifications?

Ar e you getting turned down time and time again for the job of your dreams because you just don't have the right lett ers after your name?

Get the prestige that you d eserve today!

Move ahead in your career today!

Bac helors, Master s and PhD 's available in your f ield!

No examinations! No classes! No textbooks!

Call to register and receive your qual ifications within days!

24 hours a day 7 days a week!

Confidentiality assured!….

It is easier to get forgiveness than permission Give credit where credit is due Wherever you may be let your wind go free Be just before you are generous A book holds a house of gold. A man is known by the company he keeps. Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred

This last paragraph is what makes this e-mail different from the usual diploma mill adverts—it’s a stroke of poorly punctuated genius. It suggests that I should just go for it! Ask for forgiveness later, since it’s relatively easy to come by. I also love the vague allusions to Biblical wisdom. Nothing gives your corrupt endeavor a virtuous patina like a little fattened calf action. Although here the emphasis is on love-filled vegetable-eaters.

Mostly, though, this e-mail reminds me that I can believe in two contradictory things at once. I may never want to crack a textbook, yet I can still believe a book holds a house of gold. But it’s important to remember that this doesn’t mean that I myself don’t. I’m just as smart as any old book. I hold a house of gold too and I should be able to move ahead in my career today!

I don’t, however, understand the wind going free—is that a fart joke?

A lesson:
Q: Why is NON- ACC REDITED in caps? Isn’t that something you’d want to hide?
A: No! Flaunt your weaknesses. They will become your strengths. Then use a word like prestigious and you can get away with anything.
Watch how everything changes:
Glass of milk with Prestigious glass of milk
Bathroom break with Prestigious bathroom break
NON- ACC REDITED degree brought to you by a site called with
Prestigious NON ACC REDITED degree
See how easy?

(Prestigious: from the French. “Illusion or glamour; conjuring tricks.” Clever, clever.)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Punctuation of Cherries

Okay, so some of you have expressed wild enthusiasm about the food photo in my last post. So glossy! you say. So Pink and Green! It’s true. Like M. Roland Barthes says, “Glazing…serves as background for unbridled beautification: chiseled mushrooms, punctuation of cherries…arabesques of glacé fruit: the underlying coat (and this is why I call it a sediment, since the food itself becomes no more than an indeterminate bed-rock) is intended to be the page on which can be read a whole rococo cookery” (Mythologies 78).

But what IS this here food you ask?

Lamb Kidney avec Rosemary
Parsley Rice Ring
Citrus Maraschino Mold
And Miscellaneous Frothing Mugs.

So yes, that is a sprig of parsley cascading from the kidney. Yes those are maraschino cherries. (Silly goose—did you think they would be fresh? People can catch nasty diseases and things from fresh fruit. Cook it first. Always cook it. Or drown it in gallons of sugar-goo. That works too.*)

Some hints if you try to make this at home:
Oil your rice ring!
Split and trim your kidneys
Use a cup of butter (more would be better)
Mark the gelatin layer into quarters with a toothpick—careful! you must be very careful! One wrong move and hours of work, wasted! Who did you think you were anyway, making such a complicated dish? Shame on you! Didn’t your mother teach you anything? Next time, just serve ice cream.

*p.s. I think I might have been voting age before I ever had a real cherry. Countless Christmastime jello molds and Shirley Temples had convinced me that I didn’t like them. When I found out that cherries weren’t really the color of Hawaiian Punch and actually had a deep flavor of their own I was shocked. Shocked! Why did no one clue me in to this sooner?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Brides, Kitchens

I’ve been spending some time with The Bride in the Kitchen, a book my mom was given in 1970, courtesy of Rike’s Bridal Registry. It’s quite a little volume, and I thought I’d share some of its helpful hints.

First of all, it is important to know that a well-stocked kitchen contains gherkins and maraschino cherries, Worcestershire, and instant dry milk powder. That’s the standard fare. In case “guests drop in unexpectedly for lunch or cocktails,” I’m to “save a portion of one of the upper shelves” for things like Devonshire rounds, canned minced clams, crabmeat, canned beets and, yes, gherkins. It took me a minute to remember what gherkins were. At first I put them in the anchovy family, but then I remembered that they are pickles. (Side note: apparently other people are confused about gherkins too: they think that gherkins are car parts or little gnomes. I’ve confirmed this.) There are other questions that follow from the book besides “What is a gherkin?” Like “What are Devonshire rounds?” A kind of cheese? And beets? Really? The only person I know who ate canned beets was my friend S. in college.

“Once the Honeymoon is over, the daily breakfast will settle down pretty much to routine, based on the type of work your husband is engaged in, his working hours, and his eating habits. If he likes cereal or cream of wheat every morning, that is, undoubtedly, what you will give him. If he’s a ham’n’eggs man, that is what you will cook for him” (165). Undoubtedly. And yet…can’t I do more? Yes. Regardless of his preferences, “providing him with an appetizing breakfast is [my] first step in seeing that his day begins in a cheerful fashion.” I can do this by not just slapping a grapefruit on the table, but carefully cutting the center out with kitchens scissors, peeling it with a paring knife, removing the pulp, and garnishing the tender pink pieces with a cherry or a sprig of mint. I might also make a “piquant fruited topping for waffles” or “a connubial breakfast”: ham and eggs. (The word connubial gives me the willies, and I fail to see how ham and eggs is connubial, unless it is some perverse reference to boy parts and girl parts.)

No time to dwell on this, though, for there’s more for me to remember. I’m told: “You and you only stand between your husband’s and your own starvation.” My choice is this: to succumb to the “can-opener method of cooking” (which will allow me more “time at the beauty parlor”) or to “follow a more rewarding path.” This latter option is what (the book tells me) I will decide. Who wouldn’t choose the more rewarding path? After all, “Feeding a husband successfully starts with feeding him the things he likes to eat, for a clever bride cooks to please her man.” It’s kind of like the zoo, but with more attention to flowers floating in saucers and tiny little forks for poking at lemons. And those touches are important, that and the soft background music and “a colorful napkin tied in a knot”—“just to remind your husband how lucky he is to have caught you.” Again with the zoo metaphor.

Finally, here are a few meals that will prove rewarding for both of us:
*Cream of pimento
*Chicken baked in cream
*Creamed Seafood in Casserole
*Puree Mongole which is, as it turns out just cream of pea soup and tomato juice. Just like they have in Mongolia. (Apparently this doesn’t count as a can-opener method, although I suspect that if I made this one, I might have some time to have my toes and my fingers painted.)
*Apple Beef Meat Ring
*Pottage Nivernaise (and all sorts of other things Frenchy sounding, like Duckling a L’Orange or Shrimp a la King. Things are particularly good if they end with “aise” or “oise.”)
*Salads are fine, particularly if they are made with mayonnaise or gelatin or both.
•If you want to get all exotic, you can try “dishes from foreign lands” like Calcutta Curry. (There are only five of these, so use them sparingly. Although Puree Mongole sounds pretty exotic to me.)

Bon Appetit! Let me know if you want recipes.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Everything is sad*

I say it of things too often: “That is sad. And that is sad. And that and that and that.”
But this really is.

I keep thinking about the bold black line and the words: “No one.” You always read those little articles about lonely widows in nursing homes whose children have abandoned them, about those homeless vets who no longer remember their childhood or their last name. But there’s something about this black line, moving upward, that is so much worse. No one? Really?

Yes, apparently. It is a Trend.

*When dough is heavy from having failed to rise, people call it sad.

(Chart is from The New York Times Magazine, July 16, 2006)