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The Austerity Kitchen
By Christine Baumgarthuber
Where the alimentary is elementary.
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Chewing Through History

Comments on Corpulency

Comments on Corpulency 2

Claude, swinging his arms loosely, took long, regular strides and enjoyed watching their shadows, happily lost in their sway, which he further exaggerated by putting his shoulders into the rhythm.

Then, as though suddenly waking from a dream, he asked, “Do you know ‘The Battle of the Fat and the Thin’?”

Florent, caught by surprise, answered no. Claude excitedly praised this series of prints, pointing out favorite parts: the Fat, bursting from their enormity, prepare the evening glut, while the Thin, doubled over from hunger, look in from the street, stick figures filled with envy; then the Fat, seated at the table, cheeks overflowing, drive away a Thin who had the audacity to approach humbly, looking like a bowling pin among bowling balls.

Claude saw in these drawings the entire drama of mankind, and he took to classifying all people into the Thin and the Fat, two opposing groups, one devouring the other to grow plump and jolly. “You can bet,” he said, “that Cain was a Fat and Abel a Thin. And since that first killing, there have always been hungry Fats sucking the blood out of scanty eaters. It is a constant preying of the stronger on the weaker, each swallowing his neighbor and then finding himself swallowed in turn … So you see, my friend, watch out for the Fat.”

From The Belly of Paris, by Émile Zola (1873)

Bodies Without Organ Meat

Beef Slaughtering Cutting Preserving and Cooking on the Farm

“I imagine that someone might ask me what my favorite meal would be, an utterly crazy undertaking. It’s true that I always come back to three things because they are three things that I always found sublime, but that are quite properly disgusting: tongue, brains, and marrow.” –Gilles Deleuze, Gilles Deleuze from A to Z (1989)


Native Regard

Some colonial women held captive by Native American tribes found the experience liberating

American Scenery 4

One clear spring afternoon in 1758 a raiding party descended on the Jemison farm in western Pennsylvania. The party, which consisted of six French soldiers and four Shawnee warriors, managed to capture all the family members except the two oldest sons, who escaped. “Every one trembled with fear,” one Jemison daughter, Mary, later recalled in her 1824 account of the event. Without “a mouthful of food or a drop of water” they marched until nightfall. Whenever Mary and her siblings cried for something to drink, they were told they may have urine or nothing at all. The Jemisons’ captors began to think that they had taken too many captives. Mother and father, along with two of their children, were led behind some trees and killed, their scalps left to dry by a campfire lit later that evening.

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Negative Dietetics

Le livre de patisserie

“The trajectory leading to aesthetic autonomy passes through the stage of disinterestedness; and well it should, for it was during this stage that art emancipated itself from cuisine and pornography, an emancipation that has become irrevocable.” –Theodor Adorno, Aesthetic Theory (1970)

Life of Pie

You won’t mind filling yourself in on the history baked into this dessert

A Apple Pie

During the nor’easter that descended on New England last week I spent many dull, rainy hours fixing a bicycle and baking pies. Fixing a bike has its charms. There’s a certain sense of accomplishment in taming a balky bottom bracket. But it’s baking pies that I find more absorbing. It’s great fun seeing just how many foods can be transformed into dessert. At one time or another this past month I’ve sprinkled sugar over various fillings and packed them into inexpertly shaped crusts. Some pies have turned out better than others. Apple pie, pumpkin pie, and even green tomato pie find takers when I give one away. Great northern bean and evaporated milk pie, however? Not so many.

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