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The Austerity Kitchen
By Christine Baumgarthuber
Where the alimentary is elementary.
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Il n’y a pas de hors d’oeuvre

Christmas Dinner 1966

“23 November 2004 A digression (‘I need not apologize for the digression — it has been my plan throughout this work’). Plutarch could never forgive Herodotus, the father of history, for suggesting that the Egyptians could be better hosts than the Greeks. ‘The host must hurry ,’ Derrida says on 17 January 1996 in his lectures on hospitality … Hospitality is always a matter of urgency, always a question of speeds. The unexpected guests arrive and there is always a rush of activity: a hurried welcoming at the door, a quick cleaning up, a surreptitious rearranging or putting back into order, a preparing of food and drink. But even when the guest is expected, has been expected for a long time, there is a sense of urgency. The guests arrive — always too early or too late, even if they are ‘on time.’ Coats are taken; tours are given of the immaculate, impossibly ordered home; drinks are served, food presented. For there to be a place for hospitality, for hospitality to take (the) place, the host must hurry.”

– Sean Gaston, The Impossible Mourning of Jacques Derrida (2006)

It Ought to Be Called Vice Cream

Hellers Guide for Ice Cream Makers 2

The scoop on how a familiar frozen treat once got respectable folk all hot under the collar

Summer has arrived in Maine and I’ve dug out my ice cream maker.

This ice cream maker was a gift. And like many gifts, it’s also somewhat of a curse. It coaxes me into making ice cream every two or three days. This means I must also eat a pint of ice cream every two or three days. I try to make my ice cream healthier than usual, using stevia instead of sugar and coconut milk instead of cream. Still, it feels like an almost criminal indulgence.

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The Eructator of Ice Cream

The Ice Cream Trade Journal

“And they would go across the Square to the cool depth of the drugstore, stand before the onyx splendor of the fountain, under the revolving wooden fans, and drink chill gaseous beverages, limeade so cold it made the head ache, or foaming ice-cream soda, which returned sharp delicious belches down his tender nostrils.” –Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel (1929)

Breakfast in Bedlam

Asylum inmates of yesteryear were none too crazy about the food served them

American Journal of Psychiatry 1917 2

What did the insane eat? In Bram Stoker’s Dracula we find the lunatic Renfield dining on flies and spiders. Ken Kesey describes attendants bringing “identical trays of muddy-looking food” to asylum patients in his One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. And in her memoir of her time in a psychiatric ward, Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen recalls “cutting old tough beef with a plastic knife, then scooping it onto a plastic fork.”

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Digestive Track

A Marriage for Love3

“A travelling incarceration. Immobile inside the train, seeing immobile things slip by. What is happening? Nothing is moving inside or outside the train.

“The unchanging traveller is pigeonholed, numbered, and regulated in the grid of the railway car, which is a perfect actualization of the rational utopia. Control and food move from pigeonhole to pigeonhole: ‘Tickets, please …’ ‘Sandwiches? Beer? Coffee? …’ Only the restrooms offer an escape from the closed system. They are a lovers’ phantasm, a way out for the ill, an escapade for children (‘Wee-wee!’) — a little space of irrationality, like love affairs and sewers in the Utopias of earlier times.”–Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (1980)