109567052828241954

my bitch’s name is sammy davis, junior, junior.

i just blew through everything is illuninated this weekend. i laughed (aloud — several times, even), i cried, and you better fuckin’ believe it was better than “cats.” there were certainly a few portions of the novel that i thought were weak, but the dude is only three years older than me, fer chrissakes. is it possible to develop a crush on someone from reading his novel?

and, for fred, some snippets from a beauitful edward hoagland essay from the july ’04 harpers (which was otherwise subpar, as they are tending to be these days):

“An old apple tree’s outreach, like that one’s, carries an idiosyncratic eloquence because season by season the weight of its fruit has twisted each individual limb. This generosity speaks, whereas a white spruce’s symmetry is more visually generous, and climbing high to rock with the wind was to plumb a power no truck tire roped like a pendulum to a maple or an oak tree could approach.”

“I didn’t go swimming in crashing surf or lightning flashes or climb cliffs with ropes and pitons or kayak in whitewater rapids or spelunk claustrophobically. I wasn’t trying to conquer nature or prove my testosterone. But nature as simply night or a height or a lonely menagerie animal or a small limestone cave to crawl down in or the lip of the crest of an unpretentious mountain to hanker on for an hour felt just right…My sixth sense was unstoppered.”

“In the meantime, joy is joy: the blue and yellow stripes of a perfect day, with green effusive trees and the dramatic shapes of the streaming clouds.”

“Nature throbs in us through our digestive gases, sweaty odors, wrist pulse, unruly penis or bloody vulva, and nervy tics. We flinch, gasp, fuck, cluck, grin, blink, panic, run, fight, sleep, wake, and wolf a meal like animals. Our official seven deadly sins are rather animal too, and so is bliss, I think: not only lust but that out-of-body happiness you may feel when being quite still, yet aware and self-contained.”

experiments in mess-making

i devoted yesterday morning to trying out a couple recipes. as usual, i was unable to stop myself from making substitutions and just free-wheeling through the instructions, eye-balling to reduce the portion size (to one) and to compensate for missing ingredients. but it all turned out okay: i made some malfatti (“badly formed;” also known as strozzapreti, strangolapreti, or “priest stranglers,” etc., according to what region you’re in) out of some greens i’d gotten from the market a few days ago. i’m not sure what these greens are called, but i much prefer them to spinach (which is, along with swiss chard, what these dumplings are usually made of — i’ve not come across chard in the market here yet), which has dropped considerably in the strata of vegetables for me, owing to its unpleasantly gritty texture. creamed spinach is another thing entirely. i very much overestimated the amount of greens i had: once i blanched them and squeezed the excess water out, they compacted down into a baseball sized lump, but this ended up being the right amount in the end. i also added a little too much milk to my dried bread bits, which resulted in a really loose mixture, but after binding it with an egg, i chucked in some semolina to give it some substance. when i went to cook these guys, the first couple blew apart in the water (my conjecture: because 1) they were too loose, and 2) the water wasn’t hot enough or boiling vigorously enough), but i managed to turn out maybe seven really badly-formed malfatti, which were then sauced with butter and sage and showered with parm. though ugly, they are indeed tasty. i also improvised a sformata di ricotta, riffing off a river caf recipe: i roasted some tomatoes in a pan with some sliced garlic and then baked that off with some ricotta into which i had beaten an egg. the ricotta-egg mixture becomes a really rustic version of a souffl in the oven. which is to say that it’s delicious. sorry, no pictures of either; they were really, really unphotogenic.

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