This blog is written in correlation with my PhD project 'The Technical Recipe: A Formal Analysis of 19th Century Food Writing.'
As a lover of food and literature, particularly when combined, I will discuss recipes and writing from the nineteenth century. Join me as I muddle through the best - and worst - of Victorian food writing.
Book Review: I Love Dick, and a recipe for Avocado Baked Eggs
That the last time I wrote this blog was back in
November, is telling of the fact that I find writing to be something that's
hard to get back into once stopped for a while. Throughout the year I have
written many essays, but once you settle into an academic tone where you use
words like 'elucidate' and focus on things like Shakespeare's use of Ovid in
his drama, coming back to writing in a colloquial, approachable and
entertaining way is always harder than I think.
This is, perhaps, the reason why when I stop
blogging for a while I find it an increasingly daunting prospect, and the realm
of restaurant reviews and recipes that I used to write with ease seems almost
impregnable. However, while my third year at university was the hardest and
most rewarding time of my life thus far (I have already read over fifty texts
this year and it's only June), it is now scarily over, leaving the time that
used to be filled with revision and reading confusingly empty. I have found the
readjustment to life without studying geekily difficult and summer seems to
have become a limbo-time, where I don't get to do my one 'me' thing. While I
can’t complain about the lack of essay-stress, or more time to do things with
my boyfriend, I feel like I need something to fill the space and give me
purpose. So I thought there would never be a better time to throw myself back
into writing what I used to enjoy so much, to both keep my hand in and fill my
time when I'm not working with something more rewarding than watching Netflix,
as well as reclaiming something that is just mine, aside from the series of
fantasy books I am indulging in. I am returned, with a slightly updated blog
and probably a slightly different take on things.
I was struggling to come up with ideas as to
what I should write about for my first re-entry. A simple restaurant review
didn't seem 'special' enough to announce my return to blogging, so instead I
wanted to write about a book which I recently read that had great impact on me
(see, I really CAN’T get away from those bloody essays). That book is I Love
Dick, by Chris Kraus. Now I can hear the sniggers from those of you that
haven't read the book, and maybe a knowing chuckle from those of you who have,
but I Love Dick is not a work to be laughed at. Written in 1997, I Love Dick
was one of the books on my reading list for American Literature since 1900, set
by the formidably great tutor Jane Goldman. The book is a powerful and confusing
melt of fiction and fact, with real life ‘characters’ and a plot that really
happened, but Kraus refuses to define her text and therefore the emotions she
depicts within it as either made up or a one-off case study.
A must-read for my
feminist bookworm pals, (and everyone else to be honest) Kraus doesn’t reduce herself to fill the role of a typical female
character, overcome with lust and at the mercy of the man, ‘Dick’, with whom she is infatuated. Instead, Kraus harnesses her female emotion and makes it a
force to be reckoned with. Turning the regular gender-roles in fiction on their head,
particularly in confessional fiction in which men are seen as ‘revolutionary’
for divulging their emotion yet women are seen as desperate and pitiful, she
writes a series of letters to Dick. She plays him, unwittingly, in a game, and the reader sees him transformed from subject to object, as ‘Dear Dick’ becomes ‘Dear Diary’. Kraus reduces the
male object of her affection into a means for her to express herself, as so many
men do in their treatment of female characters. Given the real-life basis of
the ‘plot’, Kraus delivers the final blow to Dick by publishing her ‘novel’,
therefore defining Dick exactly how she wants as we see him become an artistic
entity, governed by the author.
Whilst this is a very brief summary of what I
think to be Kraus’ aim, the actual content of the book is brilliantly funny, sad
and revolutionary. The brutality of the lengths she has to go to in order to
assert her power within her own life and art, reducing another person
as she goes to get dominance, shows just how difficult it can be for women to
get the inherent respect in literature that is more often than not a given for
men. She states at one point, ‘I'm moved in writing to be irrepressible. Writing to you
seems like some holy cause, cause there's not enough female irrepressibility
written down. I've fused my silence and repression with the entire female
gender's silence and repression. I think the sheer fact of women talking,
being, paradoxical, inexplicable, flip, self-destructive but above all else
public is the most revolutionary thing in the world’. I would say that anyone who is interested in female
irrepressibility, in both life and literature, should definitely read I Love
Dick. I recently met Chris, and knowing that the short, softly spoken woman
standing in front of me was so transformative and strong was inspirational and
life affirming. Kraus shows everyone, of either gender, that the boundaries in
life and art are easy to transgress, and the product of her doing so is
Academic book-spiel over, I thought I
would include a simple, easy recipe to finish off. For me, food, reading and
self-love are inextricably linked, as anyone who knows me will probably be all
too aware. So this is a recipe for my avocado baked eggs, which are healthy but
indulgent and, most importantly, delicious.
Ingredients (serves one)
seasoning (a sprinkle)
your oven to 180C. In either a small ovenproof dish, or two ramekins, place the
knob of butter and melt in the oven for a minute until fully melted.
up your avocado into strips. This can be done as messily as you like, there are no prizes for neatness here and I definitely don't expect any ridiculous avocado roses. Then, crack the eggs into your dish, and arrange
the avocado in the raw egg white. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and dukkah, an Egyptian blend of spices, seeds and nuts (which you can buy in Tesco) to
create a delicious smoky flavour.
the dish in the oven for around ten minutes or until the egg white has
solidified. Eat straight away, with a side of toast.
This recipe is
irresistibly easy and delicious, not to mention very instagramable. By cooking
the avocado you create a smoky flavour, which is almost meat-like and very
different from the raw taste. Combined with the eggs and the spices, this makes
for a surprisingly quick and satisfying lunch. You can customise the recipe by adding some smoked salmon, wilted spinach or, to make it really indulgent, double cream, however the original is plenty flavoursome.