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281st Friday Blog Roundup

I loved Peggy Orenstein’s New York Times article on femivores.  Not just because I tried to bring a chicken home a few months before the twins were born.  There was a science fair at the school where I worked and one boy couldn’t bring home the chicken he had been raising so he offered it up to a good home.  And I have a good home.

So I called Josh and left a message about how I’ve fallen in love with a chicken, and it would live at our house, mostly outside, but inside when it needed to come inside.  And the chicken would give us eggs and we would give the chicken love and we’d be one big human-chicken family.

Then I reconsidered the idea after talking to a science teacher about diseases that chickens carry in regards to the newborn twins I was about to have in the house (apparently a chicken living in the house and preemies to not mix well) and I called back Josh and left another message telling him to scratch that idea.

But he didn’t listen to the second message.  He listened to the first message and then sucked enough air into his lungs to yell without pause into the phone: “under no circumstances should you bring a chicken into our house I swear Melissa that I am going to kill you if I come home tonight and there is a chicken in our house it is against our homeowners association rules and we cannot live with a fucking chicken in our house.”

So we don’t have a chicken in our house.

But I can definitely still see the beauty in making an omelette with eggs collected from your own backyard.  We’ve tried the garden, which really didn’t work both due to a lack of gardening skills and poor sunlight in our yard (oh, and my fear of crickets who like to live near plants).  But I definitely subscribe to the idea of “radical homemakers” or “tomato-canning feminism” (oooh, I have to read and write about this book.  It appeals to me so much more than Michael Pollan).

Because like many women with graduate degrees who chose to become a stay-at-home (okay, more like a part-time work-at-home), I couldn’t just do the tasks–I had to turn it into a project with the same passion I brought to academia.  I read books about nutrition and I set up the house for minimal television watching and I think about the chicken-that-got-away.  My kids knew the term “sustainability” before they knew their ABCs.  Orenstein’s article outlines so much I have thought or experienced since leaving the traditional work force five years ago.

I read her article right on the heels of finishing Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food.  Which was fine.  I wanted to be all gung-ho about it because he speaks to so many things we already believe and do (our home has a dearth of high fructose corn syrup, we make almost everything from scratch, and we eat a lot of fruit for dessert except when Lori is here and then it’s cake 24/7, baaaaaybeeeeeeeee!).  But he didn’t grab me by the ovaries.  I think his rules are sound, but it was sort of like watching Mr. Rogers.  You know how Mr. Rogers is comfortable and enjoyable, but he doesn’t make your heart race with happiness?  That’s sort of how I felt about reading his book.

I immediately followed his book with Kitchen Confidential.  I’m about a third of the way through it.  Anthony Bourdain is sort of like hanging out with a grumpy uncle.  One who tells you a lot of stories about how bad-ass he was in his past, which makes you wonder how bad-ass he could possibly be if he needs to tell you that he was bad-ass.  I’m enjoying the book and I’ll probably end up reading another one or two of his cooking memoirs because I’m on a food memoir kick, but like Pollan, I keep wanting to be grabbed by the ovaries and I haven’t been yet.

It occurred to me as I wrote this that maybe their lack of ovary grabbiness is due to their genitalia.  Maybe I need to be reading more books by women.  Women know how to grab the proverbial gonads and never let go.


The Weekly What If: If you could follow one celebrity chef (and celebrity is a loose term–if you know them, they count.  They could be someone from a local restaurant; they don’t need to be someone with a television program or cook book) for the day, seeing what they do, receiving tips, and eating incredible meals who would it be?


I love all the additional assvice people gave and I am toying with a new (extended remix?) version of Aunt Jane Knows More than My RE.  Will post when I start working on it.  At the very least, I want to clean up the images.  I learned so much about Microsoft Paint by the time I finished the fourth film.


And now, the blogs…

A lot of people do an introductory post each month for IComLeavWe, but Partners in Crime had the best one I’ve read in a while.

Serenity Now has a post about eating cereal with her son that twisted my heart.  It’s exactly what you want to have happen; it’s exactly what you dread happening because it means that time has passed–and it usually comes with the accompanying feeling that time has gone way too quickly.

My heart is with Busted Babymaker this week as she remembers the Doodles, but she also wrote a scathingly honest post about a Facebook status meme that breaks her heart.

My Basic World has a post about not letting infertility control her life.  On one hand, it’s impossible to not have it consume you because of the numerous appointments or medications during a cycle (seriously, how do you not think about it if you have to remember to do an injection at 8 p.m.?).  She points out that an article from her clinic “suggested setting a specific time every day to deal with any concerns/questions you’re dealing with. This sounds good in theory, but take this weekend…I started spotting, am I really going to wait for my ‘allotted time’ before I started psycho googling breakthrough bleeding…hell no!”  So how does one focus on treating their infertility without thinking about it?

Lastly, Ezra’s Space has a post about gardening with one son while remembering how she always dreamed of gardening with her first son.  It is a bittersweet post that made me smile while making my throat catch.  Head over to read her brief thoughts.

The roundup to the Roundup: what are your thoughts on femivores, Pollan, and Bourdain?  Answer the Weekly What If.  Keep the assvice coming.  And lots of great posts to read.


1 tash { 03.26.10 at 8:23 am }

When Mr. ABF was reading Kitchen Confidential, he’d randomly walk in where I was and start reading out loud and by the end we were both doubled over with laughter. This book set him off on a cooking/book (not cookbook per se) reading binge — I’ll ask what his next favorite was.

Great question, and I’m not sure — did you ever read Bill Buford’s “Heat” about following (and then leaving and striking his own path from) Molto Mario? That’s interesting and a hoot, too. I love just reading Nigella Lawson’s cookbooks — they’re so witty, and I’ve heard her on the radio and I have this impression that she’d be fun to hang around. Practical advice given with humor and not afraid to pull out the butter.

2 Kristin { 03.26.10 at 8:37 am }

No thoughts about femivores or Pollan as I haven’t read either of them. I thoroughly enjoyed Bourdain’s book and love your assessment (hehehe, how bad-ass was he really?).

I have absolutely no idea which chef I’d like to meet.

3 Katie { 03.26.10 at 8:49 am }

Most people think he’s a jerk, but I would love to meet Bobby Flay.

4 Miriam { 03.26.10 at 9:42 am }

Kitchen Confidential is such a great read, but I think an even better audiobook; Bourdain reads his own stuff, and while it takes about an hour for him to really get warmed up, it’s a great listen. I highly recommend it to supplement the experience 🙂 And I would totally follow him around for a day. Part of it is mere crush factor, the other part is I just like this guy’s style- he knows where to find all the off-the-beaten-path stuff 🙂

5 a { 03.26.10 at 10:15 am }

I would like to hang out with Anthony Bourdain or Jaime Oliver -they’re the only two cooking-related people who have high energy, but aren’t annoying to me. They seem a bit more real. But this is only because Julia Child is no longer around – having read her memoir, she seems like she’d have been very entertaining to be around (if you were able to stay on her good side – otherwise, she’d merely be polite).

I didn’t really care for the femivores article – I can’t quite put my finger on why. Maybe it’s because I felt like it was ever-so-slightly condescending…implying that educated women are now raising chickens because they’ve got nowhere else to put their energy? Maybe it’s because I think the organic movement is a fad/trend/judgement point that irks me. Or maybe it’s because the SIL I like least has chickens. I don’t know.

6 Lavender Luz { 03.26.10 at 10:38 am }

You lost me at cake.

7 niobe { 03.26.10 at 10:48 am }

But what if Mr. Rogers does make your (okay, my) heart race with happiness?

8 loribeth { 03.26.10 at 10:55 am }

I dunno about the femivores thing. It makes me think of the 60s hippies who wanted to move “back to the land.” I think a lot of them had these romantic ideas about what it would be like, but in the end, a lot of them found out that it was damned hard work (a lot of it done by the women — as Orenstein points out in her article) & maybe that’s why there are now such things as stores, lol. That said, I think it’s true that “homekeeping” & the household arts have suffered somewhat since women entered the workforce, & if you make the decision to stay at home, you do have a little more time to pay attention to some of the finer points that get missed or glossed over when you’re working. ‘

I think that’s the genuis of Martha Stewart, to appeal to that nostalgia. I can remember watching the early days of her TV show, being alternately fascinated by her lengthy, detailed explanations of how to fold and store table linens in acid-free tissue paper with springs of lavender (grown in her garden, of course) to scent them, & irritated. I’d shout at the TV set, “Martha!! Who the hell has the TIME??!” ; )

I don’t watch a lot of cooking shows, but I am fascinated by Jamie Oliver & his attempts to improve nutrition in British schools, & now America. (Not to mention that he & his wife have done IVF.) I think he’s got a long haul ahead of him, but I wish him luck…!

9 Krista { 03.26.10 at 11:00 am }

Loved Kitchen Confidential — and thank you Miriam for mentioning the crush factor in your comment, glad to know I’m not the only one because my friends look at me like I’m insane when I admit this — haven’t read the others, but look forward to it. I would follow Gordon Ramsay around (probably much like a little puppy) since I have a bit of a crush on him, too. Watching his F Word on BBCA is my guilty pleasure in the morning when I probably should be watching something a little more informative and relevant, like news.

10 susy { 03.26.10 at 12:06 pm }

Don’t know about femivores, but will read up and learn. As for a ‘celebrity’ chef.. most definitely NOT Rachel Ray. [sigh – had to get that out]. I’m a mess in the kitchen, but love watching the foodnetwork. I may have to choose Bobby Flay or Guy Fieri. They just seem to smooth in the kitchen.
Off to read all else!

11 luna { 03.26.10 at 12:19 pm }

you DO have to write that book. absolutely.
nothing like home grown eggs, though we don’t have a chicken ourselves. love the food book reviews. keep ’em coming.

12 Laurie { 03.26.10 at 12:30 pm }

I am not loving the term femivore– in part because I never really love neologisms, and in part because it sounds like a definition of someone who only eats females of a species. How confusing would that be at the butcher counter? Really, though, the article both pleased and frustrated me. On one hand, it made an attempt to legitimize practices that are dear to my heart. On the other, it gave an impression that these women are moving backward rather than forward. Women are evolving in society–figuring out the best ways that they know how to balance their work, lives, and family. Figuring out cleaner, healthier ways to feed their children–even if it means relearning what our grandmothers knew–is forward motion.

13 Pam { 03.26.10 at 12:34 pm }

I’ve read Kitchen Confidential, and I’ve got a couple of others although can’t recall the names right now. I quite liked it.

There are so many chefs I’d love to just hang out with…Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri, Cat Cora, Ann Burell, Alex Guarnaschelli, Hubert Keller, Rick Bayless…I’m sure there are more. But I think right now, the person I’d love to meet and hang out with is Lynn Crawford who is a Canadian chef. She’s got a new show called Pitchin’ In which I don’t think is on the FoodTV schedule in the US, but by going to foodtv.ca, you can watch episodes of it..absolutely a great show, and Mel, she was in Maryland and made the Smith Island cake! I thought of you!

14 HereWeGoAJen { 03.26.10 at 12:44 pm }

Matt won’t let me have a chicken either. He’s mean.

15 Kate (Bee In The Bonnet) { 03.26.10 at 12:56 pm }

YAY! I can finally get the comment form to load! I don’t know what was going on this morning, but I could not for the life of me get the comment page to load, and your whole site was loading super slow. Weird!

Anyway, to answer both questions in one fell swoop (what I think of A.B., and which chef I would shadow), I would gladly spend my day following Anthony Bourdain around, mostly so I could just stare at his a$$. There’s just something about his f&ck you attitude that makes me want to be part of his circle. Or maybe it was his nearly-nude picture in the Last Supper book I got a while back. Meeee-yow! But yeah, I love his show, No Reservations, because he travels and eats (mostly) the way I want to travel and eat. I watched his show on Beirut (he was there when the 2006 crisis came down), and instead of being scared sh*tless to go there, I instead thought, “Man, I want to go there, just so I can eat that fabulous Lebanese food…”

I read Pollan as well, and while I mostly agree with him, he’s a little extreme on occasions. I wholeheartedly agree with the whole “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” thing, but I also take almost everything else he says with a grain of salt. Extremes just don’t suit my need for balance, I guess. I mean, I know HFCS is gross, but I also know that I *love* Coca-Cola, and that having a Coke once a week isn’t going to ultimately be the thing that kills me.

Femivore is a new concept for me. I’ll have to check that out. I have to say that I am sad that this is yet another year when I won’t have a garden because of issues during the month of June (last year, I was out of the country for a month. This year, there’s the whole “twin due date” thing that might, you know, get in the way a bit with the whole “tending a garden” thing…). I had one successful year of gardening (preceded by one moderately successful year, and several pathetic container gardening attempts in the prior years), and then not again since then due to my June issues (pointless to grow a garden if an entire month, a critical month, is occupied elsewhere…). Maybe by next year, I’ll be ready to plant again! Hope springs eternal!

16 Ceejay { 03.26.10 at 2:52 pm }

I would love to meet Christopher Kimball from America’s Test Kitchen and follow him around. He’s so nerdy and kind of annoying. But somehow fascinating. Also, since they’re a “test” kitchen that must go through thousands of pounds of failed food every week, I’d love to know what they do with it and how they avoid feeling guilty if they throw it away. Because I simply can’t bring myself to throw food away.

Also, I love the point about femivores. I totally relate. When we had first moved to California and I was still job-hunting, I threw myself into learning all the science behind baking bread with the same project-oriented obsessiveness with which I would throw myself at one of my classes in grad school.

17 sassymonkey { 03.26.10 at 3:34 pm }

I read Kitchen Confidential a few years ago and loved Bourdain. He was a badass and I have a thing for badasses (it’s my inner rock chick, she can’t help it). But then…then I saw him on tv and worse, I heard his voice. Now you must understand that in my head Bourdain had a Leonard Cohen/Tom Waits gravelly type of voice. In reality he actually kind of well, squeaks. So, so disappointing.

Can I go back in time and hand out with Julia Child?

18 serenity { 03.26.10 at 4:08 pm }

I would spend weeks with Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa). Because she’s got this amazing mellow energy that calms me every time I watch her show. And her food is AMAZING. So what if in those few weeks I’d gain the recent weight loss all back? Would be a vacation to remember. 🙂

And you SHOULD read Julia Child’s biography about her time in France. She was one awesome lady.

(And I want to say, after 281 Friday blog roundups, seeing my name and a post of mine linked? STILL gives me goosebumps. Thanks for reading. And caring enough to share with everyone else. )

19 Suzanna Catherine { 03.26.10 at 8:12 pm }

Even though I live in the same zip code as Paula Deen, I just can’t eat her food. Holy Cow! She throws a pound of butter into everything. My celebrity Chef pick would be Alton Brown. I just like his style.

20 coffeegrl { 03.26.10 at 10:45 pm }

I’m not sure that I have the energy to be a femivore. After reading Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which I loved, I was inspired to try a few small projects at home (making my own cheese – and I went with the easiest of all – ricotta), baking my own bread (saving $5.00/loaf on the artisan bread at the store) and making marmalade with some of the massive quantities of oranges that my father-in-law grew and then couldn’t eat fast enough. It was all time consuming and there was a learning curve. Not that it wasn’t worth it, it totally is. I’m just not ready to spend days canning tomatoes. My mother did that and it was exhausting for me to watch her. I’m lazy and selective I guess.

As for a celebrity chef…I do love Lynn Rosetto Kasper from the Splendid Table. In part because she seems to know a little about everything from recipes to wineries to coffee tastings to the history of spices etc. I love that potpourri of knowledge. I do enjoy Giada DeLaurentis now too. At first I didn’t quite get her, but now I love her perpetual smile and her food always looks delicious!

21 SS { 03.27.10 at 7:48 am }

Love the barefoot contessa. She makes cooking and baking and entertaining look so simple- would love to get her advice for a day. And melissa, if you are looking for a great food writer I recommend ruth reichl’s books- the names escape me but she’s written 2, love the one that details her time in berkeley but also the one that focuses on her time as the critic for the NY times.

22 tomi { 03.28.10 at 7:24 am }

We’d love chickens but the council has too many rules and our furkids would be glued to the windows all day 😉

I like Anthony Bourdain and I still like Jamie Oliver to a certain extent. The one I’d like to follow though would be Nigella Lawson, just because she uses butter 😉

23 Bea { 03.28.10 at 7:43 pm }

Where we live, you can rent chickens. They deliver the whole setup plus two chooks, care instructions, and ongoing advice, for a one-off fee plus monthly retainer. You can try before you buy, or you can have them until you get bored or need to go on holidays, or whatever, and then return them. It’s probably a good idea. Maybe. I’m still trying to decide. Personally, I would probably just buy. Or not, as it turns out at the moment. Maybe later on.

But – I know exactly what you mean. “I had to turn it into a project with the same passion I brought to academia.”


24 Christina { 03.28.10 at 11:33 pm }

I am basing my decision solely on that new Food Network show, “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and because of that, I would probably have to go with Giada. Every time she picks somewhere I feel like I need to travel to that city and have it NOW. I think there’s something about the way she describes things. The food on her show looks good, too, but mostly I think I relate because she has a huge sweet tooth.

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