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“Is there a gay sensibility? Can you see it in a work of art?”
January 11, 2014 12:37 PM   Subscribe

America, Your Food Is So Gay
posted by the man of twists and turns (68 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite

 
This essay is lovely, thank you. The author has a hell of a turn of phrase.
posted by Nelson at 12:56 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


Suggested music for reading
posted by The Whelk at 12:58 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]



And there were Lou’s famous burgers, so rich and salty, so crusted with a mixture of caramelized onions, Roquefort crumbles, and Grey Poupon—a thick impasto gilded beneath the electric broiler element—I could only ever eat half before feeling sick.


I don't know about a "gay sensibility" in re food, but that burger sounds fantastic.
posted by chavenet at 1:12 PM on January 11 [12 favorites]


They put on matching poplin jumpsuits and corduroy house moccasins to sip Gibsons,

Gibsons. I don't care what kind of person you are, if you drink a Gibson I probably want you as a neighbor.
posted by three blind mice at 1:16 PM on January 11 [8 favorites]


aaaand now I'm hungry.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:18 PM on January 11


*lights the sonascope lantern*
posted by The Whelk at 1:19 PM on January 11 [5 favorites]


My salades composées were thickets of yearning, drifts of leaves and flowers, sprigs of herbs and tiny carrots that looked like they had been blown there by some mighty force of nature

This is a wonderfully Uncle Monty-esque paragraph, which I mean in the most complimentary way possible.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:26 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


Speaking of gay sensibility, one of my favorite essays, "The Secret History of 2 Columbus Circle."
posted by octobersurprise at 1:44 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]


MARK SLACKMEYER: Okay, folks, our lines are open! Tonight's subject -- gay rights!

CALLER: Here's the thing, Mark -- Why do we have to give these people special rights just because they choose to be gay?

MARK SLACKMEYER: Well, you raise an interesting point, caller. Like you, fully half the country believes that gays 'choose' to be gay. Before we cut away, let me ask you this. Embracing a gay lifestyle means family trauma, discrimination, public scorn, religious condemnation ... If being gay is a choice, why on earth would anyone choose it?

CALLER: Um ... Well ...

MARK SLACKMEYER: Yes?

CALLER: The food? I heard the food's better.

MARK SLACKMEYER: Gay cuisine -- is it tops? We'll be back!

-- Doonesbury, 1993
posted by kyrademon at 1:54 PM on January 11 [39 favorites]


Donkey sauce?
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:57 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Gay sensibility is having small hand towels in the bedside table.

That's planning ahead, that is.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:07 PM on January 11 [7 favorites]


And there were Lou’s famous burgers, so rich and salty, so crusted with a mixture of caramelized onions, Roquefort crumbles, and Grey Poupon—a thick impasto gilded beneath the electric broiler element—I could only ever eat half before feeling sick.

I don't know about a "gay sensibility" in re food, but that burger sounds fantastic.


Fantastic doesn't cover it. Is there an instructional course or flyer for this "gay sensibility"? Because I'm quite for it and would like to learn more.
posted by kjs3 at 2:20 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


One GayBurger please!
posted by blue_beetle at 2:38 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Beef Burgers with Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onions

My Favorite Hamburger: James Beard. Different, but sounds equally tempting.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:47 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]


Donkey sauce?

Nah, that's from the straight dudebro Guy Fieri. We gays call it "ass gravy".

Seriously, the use of "gay sensibility" here is a very interesting one to me, a cultural heritage which I'm proud to have inherited. The notion of food being delicious, worth fussing over, made vibrant and fun. I believe as a society America has grown up and straight people can like good food now too, but I do like how there was a time when gay men in particular were seen as the stewards of fine arts and elegance. (And maybe a bit of over the top tackiness?)

Also the bittersweet ending to Lou's story, the ordinary tragedy of it, that's part of the gay sensibility too. Probably drowned in one Gibson too many and a couple of packs of Benson & Hedges.
posted by Nelson at 2:54 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


I don't know about a "gay sensibility" in re food, but that burger sounds fantastic.

Yeah, I know what'll be trying to make tomorrow for dinner.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:55 PM on January 11


Speaking of donkey sauce

Also a dinner party where all the radical art homos are trying to outdo each other with even more elaborate and novel dishes is one the best pleasures in life.
posted by The Whelk at 3:16 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]


i want to go to there
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:22 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


This article brought an inexplicable tear to my eye. Maybe I'm just hungry
posted by Joe Chip at 3:50 PM on January 11


So, then, could it be said that the gay agenda runs Flavortown?
posted by Sara C. at 3:50 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


Also, on a more serious note, I'm pretty sure it's the cultural phenomenon Birdsall is describing that leads a lot of people in my shitty provincial hometown to assume that my dad is gay.
posted by Sara C. at 3:53 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


No. No it could not. Guy Fieri is a fucking homophobe.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:53 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


From behind the scenes we suppress and sabotage American cooking so people are forced to enter our web of infectious gay sensibilities just to get a decent meal. by the time the lavender sauces hits the Parmesan and bread crum encrusted veal cutlet with shaved mint, you are already ripe for conversation in the sodomy mines.
posted by The Whelk at 3:54 PM on January 11 [11 favorites]


Yes..how dare you enjoy the thing you need to do in order to live.
posted by The Whelk at 3:55 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


I do not nor have I ever owned cocktail rings. I may as well have been pounding four loco all these years without them.
posted by munchingzombie at 4:04 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


whelk

the sodomy mines

YOU MUST NOW OPEN A GAY CLUB
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:06 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]


Dual purpose cocktail rings.

For a seamless transition from dining room to bedroom.
posted by The Whelk at 4:07 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]


Mines? I thought it was a renewable resource.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:09 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]


The important thing to remember is that serious cooking is always totally male. It can be about gay men or straight men or whatever kind of dudes you want, but it's all about the dudes. Everyone may be copying Alice Waters, but she's a woman, so she's just a conduit for the sensibility of Richard Olney, who was a dude. Really, her centrality to American cuisine just proves that American food is totally, completely male.

I thought it was an interesting article, but something about the framing really got my hackles up.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:21 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]


So, then, could it be said that the gay agenda runs Flavortown?

If I recall correctly, it's MasterBlaster.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:23 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


Mines? I thought it was a renewable resource.

Actually, most mainstream fucketologists now believe we'll be reaching peak sodomy in the near future unless new sodomy reserves are discovered.

It's why we do that whole plotting-to-convert-innocent-heterosexuals thing. Our options were basically that or start switching over to wind power, and none of us really found the windmills all that attractive.
posted by this is a thing at 4:27 PM on January 11 [5 favorites]


I think gay cooking was just an excuse for the author to write a cool article about the neighbors.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:27 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


The important thing to remember is that serious cooking is always totally male.

This is becoming less true every day, thankfully. Mary Sue Milliken and whatsername Finiger, Elena Arzak. Alex Guarnaschelli, Cat Cora, Ramsay's exec at Claridge's was a woman if memory serves... it's changing. Slowly. Not nearly fast enough. But it's changing.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:33 PM on January 11


lovely article, such evocative imagery, totally suited my current frame of mind. I am in a cuisine sort of mood this weekend, and have been making lavish dinners each night; thursday was panko-crusted tilapia with potatoes thinly-sliced and roasted until chewy, (what? my weekends start on thursday) last night was roast beef, asparagus, and baked potatoes with onion mushroom gravy and a nice Cote-de-Rhone, tonight is pink chowder (pink from salmon) and kale ceasar salad. Haven't decided what I'll make tomorrow, though.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:39 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


something about the framing really got my hackles up.

I also didn't care for his framing of Julia Child.

The really interesting thing, though, was that in the last couple paragraphs he talks about gay men still being ghettoized to pastry and salads, and then drops an Oh Wait Lesbians Exist exception, mentioning Elizabeth Falkner. If this were a conversation and not an essay, I'd have wanted to interrupt and say, "waitwaitwait, Elizabeth Falkner? Whaaaaaaat?"

I'm still kind of more interested in hearing his thoughts about Elizabeth Falkner as a someone who expresses queerness through haute cuisine than I really was interested in any particular angle in this article. (I did like the Lou stuff, though.)
posted by Sara C. at 4:39 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


all of my current queering cuisine drives are being filtered through a heavy Hannibal framework.

It helped that I already love game and organ meat.
posted by The Whelk at 4:43 PM on January 11 [5 favorites]


This is becoming less true every day, thankfully.
I don't think it was ever true, and it wasn't true in any time-frame that's relevant to this article. He says that the kind of cooking he's talking about was closely associated with Alice Waters, and then he uses her to talk about Richard Olney, whose ideas about food influenced her. Olney is the "architect" and Waters is not. I don't think he's motivated by misogyny: I think that you have to demote her or you can't argue that the architects of modern American cuisine were all gay men. But it plays into the erasure of women that is everywhere in American food writing.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:46 PM on January 11 [5 favorites]


Also apparently there's a stereotype that lesbians make and choose amazing cheese.. No idea why..
posted by The Whelk at 4:46 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


I'm still kind of more interested in hearing his thoughts about Elizabeth Falkner as a someone who expresses queerness through haute cuisine

I think she expresses haute cuisine through haute cuisine. She also happens to be queer.

Which is the right way round for these things to be taken, I think.

It helped that I already love game and organ meat.

Ahem.

But it plays into the erasure of women that is everywhere in American food writing.

I'd have to disagree with you there. Gael Greene pops into mind, for one. The EIC of Gourmet. Etc etc.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:50 PM on January 11


Gay or straight, if you don't have children then you have more time and money to focus seriously on hobbies like cooking.
posted by b1tr0t at 4:55 PM on January 11 [6 favorites]


Speaking of donkey sauce
posted by XMLicious at 5:09 PM on January 11


I think there are queer sensibilities to all kinds of stuff including cooking - but I also think these are not constant, it's meaningless to posit a transhistorical sensibility.

And of course, where does class play into this? I found myself wondering about Lou and Pat - Pat must have had a pretty good job and Lou must not have been super employable, given that after Pat died, Lou ended up in a trailer park. (I was impressed with Pat that he apparently managed to leave Lou the house so clearly and unequivocally that there was no challenge to the will - or else that he managed to put the house in Lou's name in some way before he died.) How much is the "gay sensibility" described in the article a class fantasy?

(I add that the whole "living like rich [implicitly white] aristocracy" fantasy thing isn't totally a gay dude thing - Marge Piercy's novel The High Cost of Living is pretty interesting in terms of lesbian community.)

I am not a gay dude so my perspective on this may be totally off - the part where Beard is all "hey come and talk about pastry" to the young climber chef dude, that sure looked like a "well if you want to get somewhere, you'll service me" and it seemed super creepy. But may not? Was that just normal? It would be insanely creepy if the people involved were straight, but they weren't.
posted by Frowner at 5:31 PM on January 11 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: queer cuisine filtered through a heavy Hannibal framework.
posted by foobaz at 5:41 PM on January 11


Am I reading the article correctly when I infer that Pat and Lou put on cocktail rings specifically for cocktail hour? (Because if so, BRB humbly rethinking entire approach to life.)
posted by No-sword at 6:34 PM on January 11 [3 favorites]


The important thing to remember is that serious cooking is always totally male. It can be about gay men or straight men or whatever kind of dudes you want, but it's all about the dudes.

It really is stunning how this writer's piece got twisted this way. Guy is a queer writer, writing from the perspective about growing up queer, and working as a queer in a business that historically doesn't like queers working in it, let alone playing any significant role, writing about his own experience and that of other famous queers in culinary history. The sheer need that some people have on this site to read bad intent into a writer's motivations for a focused piece is absolutely breathtaking. Just mind-blowing. Jesus Christ.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:41 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]


The perfect beer pairing
posted by stargell at 7:12 PM on January 11


But Beard opening his robe to reveal nothing underneath in a(n ostensibly) work-related context can still be seen as problematic, I hope.
posted by Earthtopus at 7:13 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


Like I said, I think the substance of the article is great. I don't like the framing about whether American food is fundamentally gay and male, especially since he's talking about developments that were closely associated one of the vanishingly few women who is widely acknowledged to be a really influential person in American food culture. I don't know when he wrote this piece: maybe it was completed before the whole brouhaha over the Time Magazine "Gods of Food" issue and the whole discussion about how food media creates, rather than just reflecting, the near-invisibility of women in the upper reaches of American food culture. But reading this afterwards, I was really struck by it. And I don't think that sexism ceases to be sexist when it's done by gay men. I also don't think that the framing was necessary. He could have talked about whether there's a gay male sensibility that is attracted to a certain kind of food without claiming that this gay male sensibility is responsible for the existence or popularity of that kind of food.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:21 PM on January 11 [4 favorites]


Yeah, gotta go with Blazecock here. This is my industry, and it is not, as in not, overtly welcoming to queer people at all.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:38 PM on January 11


b1tr0t: "Gay or straight, if you don't have children then you have more time and money to focus seriously on hobbies like cooking."

Just the opposite with me. When the kid was home we always made a point of having real home cooked meals in the dining room. Now that he's moved out we just eat thai take-out in front of the TV. If we want interesting food we eat out.
posted by octothorpe at 8:10 PM on January 11


That's not a matter of time and money though. That's a matter of interest. If you're a DINK, you have more time and money to devote to good food than you would otherwise.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:24 PM on January 11


Good essay, but have to agree with those who think the argument is pretty thin. A number of cultural forces coalesced in American food in the early 70s. There's no simple "this because that" in that story.
posted by Miko at 9:05 PM on January 11 [1 favorite]


I remember hearing somebody say, "If you took out all gay, black, and Jewish influence out of American popular culture, all you'd be left with is Let's Make a Deal."
posted by jonp72 at 9:35 PM on January 11 [5 favorites]


I remember hearing somebody say, "If you took out all gay, black, and Jewish influence out of American popular culture, all you'd be left with is Let's Make a Deal."

Is there irony I'm missing here, or is that the point? Monty Hall and Wayne Brady would seem to fit into two of those categories...
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 10:43 PM on January 11 [2 favorites]


I think she expresses haute cuisine through haute cuisine. She also happens to be queer.

The specific phrasing of how he mentioned her implied that there was some especially queer sensibility to her food. Which is why I was so curious about that.
posted by Sara C. at 11:55 PM on January 11


One of the things that broke the curious haze that enveloped me when I lost my job this past summer was the moment when, after being sat down in the head office with the director of human relations and told that my department was being merged with another, and that, for reasons of budget and seniority, I was being let go, I took the train home, walked back from the station, petted the dog, and opened the refrigerator. I peered in at the little wooden box containing two thirds of a wheel of a fine textured goat's milk cheese from a creamery in Western Maryland with a brielike smoothness gorgeously crossing over into the sharp tang of a more traditional goat cheese, a delight that I'd only just discovered days before, and the gravity in the room just sort of went.

This is the last piece of expensive cheese I'll have for a long, long time.

Of course, I'm not particularly extravagant in how I live. I've never owned a new car and probably never will, I've lived in the same two room apartment for more than twenty-five years, I've never had a traditional vacation with air travel and accommodations, and I don't drink beyond occasionally buying a glamorous cocktail with an umbrella that I carry around like a party totem, but merely sip.

This, though, has been my gourmet year, albeit for unexpected reasons.

I swore off food with ingredients, mostly, at the start of 2013. Everyone around me rolled their eyes, pointing out that there's no such thing as food without ingredients in the same way that there's no such thing as food without chemicals, but I meant it in a very specific sense, in that I intended to stop buying food with ingredients and transition to buying foods that were ingredients. To keep a few treasured items in my occasional realm, I allowed for the odd item with 3-5 ingredients, and because there's nothing more obnoxious than a purist, I think it's perfectly fine to slouch down to McDonald's for the blue moon McChicken sandwich or similar vile piece of chemistry set bovine calm.

The spark of forced participation in the culinary arts in lieu of the meek acceptance of convenience turned out to be a very good thing, and the mode of working from roots and staples turned out to be a big step forward.

I work in a kitchen that is five by nine feet in total, including the appliances, and have no counters at all. There's a giant cast iron sink on a metal cabinet, a broad shouldered vintage Real Host gas stove with the burners clustered around the center so I have a little working space around the periphery, and a refrigerator that's really too big for the space. There used to be clunky old metal cabinets overhead, but in the final venture of a hysterical cockroach purge that's given me a bug-free kitchen for twenty-two years, I tore out all the cabinets and installed open basket shelves, overhead hangers, and racks everywhere. Everything is in a mason or recycled jar, tin box, or hanging from a hook, and the kitchen is my pantry, as well.

The discipline imposed by a tiny workspace means that I cook like Julia Child, in that I prepare my ingredients in batches, setting up little glass custard cups full of crushed garlic and kasoori methi that I've ground extra fine in my well-worn mortar and pestle (a tool that few people seem to own, which just boggles my mind). The move to that mode of working was a natural adaptation to the dimensions of my working environment, but I can't discount Julia's influence, because she was the goddess to my childish awakening to food a long time prior.

I remember watching her, transfixed, even as she prepared things I'd never eat, and still won't. Her voice, her imposing stature, and the way the joy of her work was just a radiant thing, a warmth that flowed straight from the tiny screen of our TV into my lonesome heart, and I was changed.

In high school, my best friend and I created what I believe to be the first ever pirate radio drag science fiction cooking show with field reporting segments, which I broadcast to almost no listeners from a tape recorder in a locker connected to a tiny FM transmitter that I'd bought at Radio Shack and hopped up with a little more wattage. It was, of course, mostly unlistenable, in that The Agnes & Agatha Show was largely two teenaged boys talking in rolling falsettos and cooking mundane foods in what we claimed was a space station in a geosynchronous orbit over Maryland.

"Today, we're going to tackle pancakes," said Agatha, a doughy space woman in her mid-fifties.

"I'd better get my football helmet, then," quipped Agnes, another doughy space woman in her mid-fifties, and the two of us laughed and laughed. My father, happening on these scenes, would roll his eyes and twitch slightly as two skinny high school kids wrought havoc on the kitchen in the guise of shrieking Catskills-grade drag routines, and my mother would just scowl at the depth of destruction, but she was more patient with the extremes of art as an artist herself.

"As you can see, Agnes, I've prepared our batter in advance."

"Batter up!"

Oddly, neither of us had any notion of exactly how gorgeously queer the whole endeavor was. It was just play of the best kind, and while we cooked nothing of any consequence and didn't even do a particularly good job at preparing things as mundane as pancakes, there was a lightness in the play of it that I've carried forward ever since.

"Jeez, Joe," Vygis griped, looking properly ridiculous in a red polyester cocktail dress that I'd found at a local yard sale. We were both greasy nerds in those days, all stringy hair and curated dishevelment, and in his party dress and Soviet-style metal rimmed glasses, he looked hilarious, which was my point. My dress was not as nice, a red and white number with a Peter Pan collar, and was a bit too snug, but he was the straight man and I was the buffoonish ringleader, so it was as it should be. "Do we have to actually wear these things? I feel like an idiot."

"Yes. We're method."

"But…it's radio. No one can see us."

"They can hear the dresses."

"They can hear dresses? C'mon."

"Would you just stop fussing and fix the ruffles on your collar?"

"Jeez."

Thing is, until fairly recently, I have always been a good cook, but a good cook in the sense of being someone with the methodical nature to execute recipes to the letter of the law with a set of well-practiced techniques of preparation that I'd learned from watching my mother and my grandmother and my great aunts setting up holiday meals in the big open kitchen of one of the rambling ancestral houses back in low country Georgia. The freedom of the moment, and the je ne sais quoi of just throwing together a meal with seemingly random ingredients, though, was not within my grasp.

I'd diverge from recipes, only to ruin the delicacy of contrasts and the careful balances of flavors, and I'd experiment at my own peril, occasionally having to throw out entire casseroles of inedible combinations, and it infuriated me that I could not master the art of cooking in the same way I'd mastered the craft of it, but it wasn't until my no-ingredients pledge that I had to start breaking down the way I worked into discrete parts that allowed for play and variation.

With just the atoms of food available, just flours and beans and oils and vinegars and spices and so on, I had to work differently, even though I was using items I'd always used. There was just something to the zen habit of working from simplicity upwards instead of from complexity downward that made for a change. I mastered the five mother sauces, and honed my more visceral sense, borne out of memory, of what flavors worked with other flavors, and took my love of cuisines from Vietnam and India and Indonesia and worked them into the mix, exploring variations and combinations, and shift happened.

The thing is, 2013 was an awful, defeating, soul-crushing year for me.

My old friend, the Agnes to my buffoonish Agatha, was killed in a bizarre accident in March, management changes at work turned a dream job into a punishing, stressful chore, a pinched nerve that had triggered six months of chronic pain only a few years earlier returned in full force, and suddenly, I was out of a job and knocked for a loop and the little piece of fine textured goat's milk cheese in my refrigerator was going to be it for a while.

In the face of lack, though, I went absolutely wild. I have long sworn to never leave the house without a proper cooked breakfast, and without a train to catch, I started getting grandiose, posting my morning culinary projects on the 'net in a vestigial reflex going back to the days of my pirate radio drag science fiction cooking show with field reporting segments.

I may not have any money, but I have time for hollandaise.

I'd stand in the kitchen, naked as a jay bird, hair still wild from the pillow, and peer into the refrigerator for the morning's vocabulary of flavors. A few mushrooms left, some cheap supermarket brie, frozen spinach, powdered milk, and some eggs in the refrigerator door. Don't think. Just let it flow. I'd brew a pot of tea, start working, not thinking, not overthinking, not being analytical—just letting my hands start to work.

"I've made a tiny brie and mushroom soufflé with a side of creamed spinach with kasoori methi this morning, served in the grand manner with a painfully dark cup of Café du Monde sweetened to diabetic wonderment with canned condensed milk under a dusting of orange zest," I'd subtitle my precious little photos online, then send the whole thing into worldwide distribution with a click of the post button.

"Gah, could you get any more pretentious with your breakfast posts?" my sister said to me with the kind of weary familiarity that comes from having had to live with my eccentricities for decades.

"Oh yes. And I will," I replied, with a withering tone that is, itself, awfully twee, but it's all part of the play. The thing is, I carried that little soufflé and teeny cup of zesty coffee to the old walnut table in my front room, put Astrud Gilberto on the stereo, and it is all a put-on, in a way, except that that meal was absolutely celestial and would start a day in which I would otherwise feel sad and sentimental and frustrated and worried about my ability to ever pull things together again with a triumph on the scale at which we can always triumph against the overbearing shittiness of an unfair world.

I cannot beat back all the demons and unexpected disasters that plague my world, but I can own this moment, right here and right now, when I can surrender to joy.

Is it a queer sensibility, this? Is it just what people have always done when things will not go our way, to either give up the game to suffering or to stand up, laugh in the face of lack, and use things as simple as invention, adjectives, and determination to make something out of almost nothing?

So, for me, in a year in which almost everything sucked beyond all reason, I also reached a point at which I realized that I am not a decent cook, bound by cookbooks and a narrow canon of how decent cooks cook—I am an excellent cook, making the best I can with what I have and learning new things every day, in a kitchen that I stock on the cheap with staples and a few indulgences can come together in an almost unlimited way and remind me that life is like that, too.

This morning, after I check what I've written here to catch most, but not all, of my typos and malapropisms, I will stand in my kitchen, naked as a jay bird, hair still wild from the pillow, and light a candle for days lost and another for the divine Julia Child, who made it all real, ring the little tingsha bells that hang from the doorframe to my tiny kitchen, open the refrigerator, and see what the day has to offer.
posted by sonascope at 6:04 AM on January 12 [53 favorites]


Oh, sidebar surely?
posted by blurker at 8:11 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


On further thought, I think the causation could very definitely be correlation. We had the rise of the TV chef, the reinvigoration of American cuisine with a technique- and ingredient-focused methodology, and the movement to expand human rights all at once. Given that food was part of the cutting-edge zeitgeist, it just makes sense that people coming of age, or into power, at this cultural moment would largely embrace food as one means of that expression. What was going on in food starting in the early 70s was a break with the past, a new way of valuing creativity and quality in the everyday.
posted by Miko at 8:45 AM on January 12 [1 favorite]


sonascope, this seems such a small thing to say in response to that, but if you want to enjoy your Cafe du Monde coffee in a traditional way, AND with milk that lasts more than a few days in the fridge, but without the sugar bomb, unsweetened condensed milk is the way to go. My grandparents and dad still take their coffee with "Pet" milk and only "Pet" milk. You can even get a low-fat variety which is far superior to fresh skim milk.
posted by Sara C. at 10:26 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


We had the rise of the TV chef, the reinvigoration of American cuisine with a technique- and ingredient-focused methodology, and the movement to expand human rights all at once. Given that food was part of the cutting-edge zeitgeist, it just makes sense that people coming of age, or into power, at this cultural moment would largely embrace food as one means of that expression.

Anyone interested in this line of thought should read Ruth Reichl's memoir, Tender At The Bone. Or, I don't know, probably any of her many fantastic books, but that's the one I remember dealing with the sort of "revolutionary culinary zeitgeist" Miko refers to.

To mention yet another woman who's been fundamental in creating what we think of as modern American cuisine.
posted by Sara C. at 10:29 AM on January 12 [2 favorites]


The Agnes & Agatha Show was largely two teenaged boys talking in rolling falsettos and cooking mundane foods in what we claimed was a space station in a geosynchronous orbit over Maryland.

Satellite of Love, indeed.

have to agree with those who think the argument is pretty thin.

Yeah, like much of what gets written on blogs, I think he's playing with an extended metaphor more than actually making an argument. I mean, I don't think he's really arguing that "American food is gay"—which is a silly assertion on its face—as much as he's limming the effects of a couple of gay men on American eating habits in the context of what is traditionally understood as a "gay sensibilty"—itself a questionable idea—and in the culinary experience of one gay man in particular. His error here may be in writing whimsically, but if he's a knowledgeable about culinary history as he sounds, then I imagine that he's aware the gays aren't solely responsible for modern American cusine.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:41 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


Yeah, like much of what gets written on blogs
He posted it on his blog, but he says that it was originally published in Lucky Peach, which is not a low-profile publication. Lucky Peach is a food quarterly that is edited by chef David Chang and that was, until very recently, affiliated with McSweeney's.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:47 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]


I'm a pretty good cook myself, but for the record, I've known plenty of gay guys over the years who ate nothing but crap, and who couldn't cook if their lives depended on it. And the best food I ever ate was cooked by a straight guy (my ex brother-in-law).
posted by sam_harms at 4:54 PM on January 12


This is what our brutal gay reeducation camps in the hills are for.
posted by The Whelk at 5:33 PM on January 12 [3 favorites]


The hazing is just ghastly.

We serve nothing but daiquiris made with honey.
posted by sonascope at 8:48 PM on January 12 [1 favorite]


LOCAL HONEY

you pass an Auntie Mame test and you can get solid food.
posted by The Whelk at 9:30 PM on January 12 [2 favorites]


Food is something I try mostly be to be something I do in order to be able to do things that are vastly more amazing than eating. And then occasionally break that rule completely and enjoy a nice dinner of Brussels waffles. :-) Even my pancakes have been turned largely into healthfood. LOL!
posted by Goofyy at 9:34 AM on January 13


I'm imagining sonascope's old culinary-drag radio show as something akin to the Two Fat Ladies.
posted by postel's law at 1:37 PM on January 13 [1 favorite]


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