Monday, December 31, 2007

Soupy or Savory

Image Flickr-The Madonna of the Cupcake-Barbara Rich

Today your soup will be ready to eat. That is, if you did continue to make it rather than just read about it. Either way, it is New Year's Eve - and that means the approach of New Things.

Whether one likes it or not, the year forward measured separately from the one past will bring new things. Some pleasant, some not. Some participated in, some just happening to one without any warning or ability to really personally control what happens.

Last year at this time I never imagined I would bother to write a "blog". The word blog has always sounded silly to me, but then again names can alter in perception and shift in meaning, all depending on many factors.

One of those factors is how often the name is used. Some distasteful names can lose a bit of their fury if used over and over and over till they become almost bland simply from overuse.

Some distasteful names never lose their ugliness, of course - for some ugliness is as sticky as the strongest Superglue one can imagine, and will be so as long as "human" beings are human beings.

I became a "fast food feminist" when the name was thrown at me - a label, stuck upon me to be shed or ignored, accepted or worried about. At first I worried about it. The label carried a subliminal hate held within it, and that hate had nothing really to do with food, "fast" or not.

"Feminist" is the word of power in this name. It shimmers in the air, the word "feminist" with overtones of all sorts of things. It is fearful to many, the word. For women it holds the possibility that if they claim it as their name they might just be the ones that don't get asked to the Prom.

The word is a challenge.

The word is an interesting challenge, though, and I decided to carry it rather than turn away from it to simper winningly at those who dislike it. Maybe the use of it over and over and over will soften the fear of what is carried within it by those who do fear and hate it.

The boy who threw the word at me was a boy. A young man. I hope he grows into a real man rather than the boy he is - for any male person who needs to fear the word is not a man in my sense of what a man is, for Real Men do not Fear Women (whether they are "feminists" or not). They have grown past that stage.

Certainly men (and women) have the right to dislike "feminists" as a group (though feminists are not a cogent group of any sort - they are individuals and highly individualistic) but they won't be on my radar as being particularly interesting people but rather, they would seem to me to be cerebrally and emotionally-challenged idiots.

I leave you on the brink of this New Year with the words I wrote that caused Fast Food Feminist to be as a name thrown in response. A new year is almost here, and with that, new opportunities in all ways. This blog might be continued, or might not be. I've said what I wanted to for the most part, and do not think that detailing my daily eating or cooking habits is something that intensely fascinates me at all, as an activity.

As a "blog" instead I may add some links to other things, for lots of people say and write excellent things that are worthy of sharing.

A joyful, useful, prosperous and loving (if you can find it or make it) New Year to all!

One interesting facet of "fast food" or convenience food, which the US might arguably be said to lead the way in, to our collective (?) detriment, is that it freed a huge female population from the daily assigned chores that had taken them hours a day for centuries, in their roles as homemakers. That means a lot, to a lot of people. It means that they can do things besides be in the home, cooking. It means that they can become professional at any other thing they may want to consider, thereby finding ways that their souls can soar. It means that single mothers can work outside the home and put a hot meal on the table (oh no, not gourmet, but edible and perhaps even good) for their children when they get home, quickly. The very fact that fast food or convenience foods exist allows many women to consider the idea of cooking as a pleasure, not something they *have to do* three times a day seven days a week. Naturally I am not speaking of the wealthy here, but of the working class or poor. It means that more women can love cooking as an expression of themselves, as an enjoyable task. In one sense fast food may be a collective detriment. It sure ain't "gourmet". But to tell the women of any country that have the opportunity to utilize fast food *or* convenience foods *when they please* that these foods are detrimental to their lives, that really it is so much better to cook slow food, for that "tastes better". . . to my mind, that is a disservice. The "taste" of a thing is not only on the tongue. It is also in the heart and mind and histories.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Day Two - Go for Pizza

The great thing about time is that it can be what we make it.
Therefore today I am going out for pizza, a good pizza, but one with no pretension.

There are many recipes for Split Pea Soup at the touch of a google.
There are many blogs too, with recipes for it.

I'll enjoy thinking of them at the pizza place.

Time is what you make of it.
And you are not what you eat.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Base of Reality

                                                                  Photo Flickr-esterase

Why make a soup? Why, when there are recipes available for so many other things? Recipes for delights from The French Laundry that hover in minds near godliness (I've heard the chef referred to as a God which was startling as I thought that a chef was a trade or profession myself), recipes from dozens of ethnic foodways (oh let's say "cuisines", it sounds cooler) that dazzle and impress those unused to seeing or eating them every day, recipes complex and gorgeous everywhere that can produce shiny food-porn capable of excellent photo-shots on the kitchen table?

The reason to make a soup is that it is one of the most basic and real foods known to man and womankind.
The reason is that it is a humble thing - something that in times past kept people alive when there may have been not much else to eat. 

Another reason is that people (most people, anyway - and I would go so far as to say "anyone who is not really mentally twisted in some terrible manner") love good soup. 

Day One: First you must get your ham.

This is a fast thing for us today, most of us. In past times it was different. 

In past times first you'd have to get a pig. If you didn't have money you'd have to find a husband with a pig or a wife who would bring a dowry of a pig then marry them. That pig would have to find themselves a pig of the opposite sex to make babies with (there is some pleasure in all this work) then have the babies, suckle  and wean them. Then the little piggies would have to be raised with pasture or feed, pigslop and fresh water (which means a stream nearby or a trough filled constantly), and maybe even a nose ring installed to keep them from digging ("rooting" is the right word and I often wonder what old-timers think when they see young people with nose rings installed in their young faces) themselves out of the fence somehow built in the heavy soil to contain them.

Once big and fat the pig would need be slaughtered (not a pretty thought) with sharp implements by someone (whoever could do it?) or if it were closer to today's time, a truck would be needed to load the pig on to transport it to a slaughterhouse where the sharp knives and the person who could do it were available. Then the enormous animal could be cut up with the knowledge and skills of pig anatomy into the porky bits most of us know and love.

After that the ham could be salted, seasoned, smoked over the right sort of wood in the right sort of humidity and temperature, then cured.

Why even think about all this!

Why? Because somehow it makes the soup taste better if you know this, not only to you but to whomever tastes it - even if you just go to the grocery store to buy a ham, flashing the debit card easily through the slot for payment. I assure you it does, but there is no real proof of it. Just try it and see.

Today get your ham. Go to the grocery store or wherever you get ham from and choose it. It should be from the shank end and not too fatty. This is not a ham to serve, spiral-sliced and glazed. This is a ham that has the power to make a soup. It will not be gorgeous but it will be strong and good.

Surprisingly it will also be inexpensive.

If you do not have onions, carrots, celery in the house pick up those too. And a bay leaf and dry thyme.

The work of Day One is done. The base of reality has been found.

Friday, December 28, 2007

I'm Late! I'm Late! For a Very Important Date!

It's a lie. I'm not really late for anything. But time does seem to fly and the decision must be made how to use it. 

Cooking, real cooking, can seem to take a lot of time when one is busy - it can seem to take a lot of time even when one is not particularly busy but when one might just want to do other things.

But home-cooked food does have an attractive savor, a personally-made-to-order delight about it in all ways.

Therefore, for those who can empathize with the White Rabbit glancing at his time-piece, there is the Three-Day Authentic-Homemade Pea Soup.

The Three-Day Authentic-Homemade Pea Soup (which we will now call the TDAHPS which sounds something like a panting desire for something good to eat if you say it aloud) takes no time at all to make although it takes three days. It is a magical soup, a soup that will center your spirit and also, it just plain tastes really good.

If you eat TDAHPS you will feel thick as a den of thieves. You will feel solid as a pea-souper fog but without the discomfort of not being able to see where you are going. You will be happy because you will have made a three day soup without spending any time, any time at all! (Or very little, anyway. It is all in how you look at it.)

Tomorrow we begin.

P.S. This recipe will not be useful to any celebrity chef wannabes. There is no Big Name attached to it, no rubbing-off of fame and fortune, no pretense that it will make a home cook "just like those guys" in any way whatsoever. There are no bragging rights held within this recipe and not the merest whiff of haute technique for the haute technique groupie at home. It might, however, be exactly the sort of thing those Big Names enjoy cooking and eating when they go to their own home kitchens from the theatre of their restaurants or television stages. It just might be.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Some Important Questions

                                                 Image Flickr-Radio Rover

The mailbox is overflowing, so let me try to answer some of the important questions today.

Q. Why do you keep writing up short and simple recipes? Don't you know that complicated and expensive is better?
A. Scientists are on the brink of proving once and for all that there is no special place in Heaven reserved for those who spend more time and money on food than others, so I am jumping on the bandwagon early.

Also, to set Heaven aside for a moment (goodness knows we have to) it used to be thought in the world of the profane that sacrifice and struggle made a person more worthy and deserving of all the good things that can come one's way. 

Women (some, not all)  took this notion to heart and have applied it to food throughout history, and it is only in modern times that this concept is being questioned objectively and found wanting. Children do not grow up into finer people based on the fact that they did not eat canned or frozen food while being raised, and grown adults can be absolute assholes even though they may make their bread from scratch and eat only organic free-range happy carrots and purple rice (or alternately, gold Kobe tidbits with silver sha sha sauce).

Q. What was the best thing you ever ate?
A. I often remember the mashed potatoes. I ate them at a pot-luck. They were made by one of the ugliest women you would ever imagine to see - her hair was dank and stringy, she was shaped like a very large rotten pear and she did not seem to brush her teeth well . . . there was always yellow stuff curling up in the far corners here and there. But her mashed potatoes were the best I've ever tasted in my life, and she offered them to the world as if they were "just the usual thing". Her husband was a very good-looking man, in contrast to her - and I have to wonder if the mashed potatoes she made gave him his looks or whether the mashed potatoes she made were her soul shown in a covered hot bowl. If so, then she was gloriously gorgeous, going far beyond what surface he or she had to offer. Could this be true?

Q. What was the worst thing you ever ate?
A. It was a casserole. There it sat on top of the stove humbly prepared. It was a combination of grey ground beef, white bread and Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup tossed together then topped with canned pineapple slices and baked. I know this, for I asked for the recipe. This casserole was made however, by a gorgeous woman - a tall leggy blonde with a beautiful smile, a large happy husband and two good children. To put the icing on the cake the family was also devoutly religious and not pushy about it.

Q. Have you ever eaten a mythical beast?
A. Yes. There's myth everywhere in the air and it often sheds onto things without anyone noticing. I've eaten many mythical beasts. 
I've even known one or two quite well.

Q. Why the "Fast Food Feminist" thing? Why not "Elegant Sublime Woman Cooks"?
A. I'll tell that story on New Year's Day.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Painless Crispy Pita Toasts

                                                                   Photo Flickr-the15

It looks as if it would be great fun to make pita bread in the authentic manner. The fire, the steel, the aroma that must rise.

Today however I do not have the time to start a fire outside. So instead the grocery store shelf will provide my pita bread, and it is usually okay though usually also not great.

I like grocery-store pita better made into crisps then served with a dip - guacamole for example. Or with a soft creamy cheese.

Here's a recipe for pita crisps that are quick and delicious:

This tastes even better if before baking you whisk an egg with a bit of water to brush the tops of the pita then sprinkle on a generous mixture of seeds and herbs - sesame, poppy, flax, thyme, hot pepper, lemon zest or whatever takes your fancy.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Raising a Mug to Santa

                                                                Photo Flickr-gak

The rush to the finish line of the holidays is almost over. The ham has been eaten, the roast beast devoured, the turkey pinched in all the right places and the vegetables admired and maybe chewed upon.

If the cook is tired it would be understandable.

In this case, the cook needs something warm, something soothing, something to sink into for comfort and sustenance to meet the dirty dish pile.

Normally I would advise Glogg. It is a Swedish hot fortified wine. But who needs to cook more, I ask you. 

Not this cook. So instead take a mug and fill it with two-buck-chuck. Add a pinch of Chinese five spice powder. Add two lumps of demerara sugar, or any equivalent sweet thing. Pop it into the microwave for under a minute, stir and take sustenance. Sitting down, not standing over the sink or inbetween picking up dirty dishes.

If you wish to struggle for some unknown reason, here is the authentic recipe with all the bells and whistles:

More work really does not make a person more moral, though. I'd rather be quick about it and get on with raising a mug to Santa than be zesting lemons and stirring a pot. 

Monday, December 24, 2007

More Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice

Photo Berlin Wall Flickr-siyublog
Photo Flickr-Eric in SF

There is spice to talk about. The salt, the smoke, the herbs, the leaves and bark of trees we eat.

Since today is Christmas Eve Day, I'll tell a story about something made with spice. A ham.

Each time the season of Christmas approaches, I think of this story. It was about a woman, a man, a child, and a ham.

And some other things.

The machine guns were firm in the hands of the tense guards at the border. They were wary and ready for anything that night at Checkpoint Charlie one day before Christmas Eve in 1989.

Nervously passing their hard-eyed inspection we drove on into the gathering dusk to our destination. The tiny house set in the sloping streets of the East German industrial suburb was grim-looking and dark when we first saw it - only the faintest of yellowed lights dimly shone behind the closed curtains. Anna pointed her finger urgently towards the house, after reading the number on the mailbox twice out loud. We pulled into the narrow driveway and sat there together with the car engine still running.

“That’s it! He lives there!” Her voice was tight, high timbered, and strangled at the place it hit her heart.

Her brother was inside that house. She had not seen him for many years. They had been children when the Berlin Wall was built and the family had been split in two - Anna lived with her mother in the West - growing into a woman with her own children - and her brother remained with his father in the East. There had been very little communication over the years.

The door opened and a slight man looked out at the car in his driveway from the threshold. Vaguely outlined, the dusky light allowed enough to see that he was dark and slim, and had a moustache. “Tomas!” his sister cried out. “Tomas!” She almost fell out of the car then ran, stumbling up the concrete walk to the house where she and Tomas fell into each other’s arms. He pulled her into the house. His wiry arms were wrapped so tightly around her that she almost disappeared right into him, blending the two of them into one solid shape.

We waited in the dark driveway for a while to be sure all was well. It was quiet and lulling, the wintry night air clear, bright and and heavy. When the door to the house opened and light streamed out into the darkness it startled us. We awoke from what had seemed like a dream. Anna beckoned towards us, delicately making her way down the icy steps.

She wrapped her hands around the support of the opened car window. “Please come in and meet my family. My brother would like you to.” We bundled out and followed her up through the snow into the house. It was chilly inside. The only fuel for heat was coal.

As Anna gestured us towards the battered sofa (a brightly colored crocheted throw carefully laid over its back) her brother walked into the room carrying a platter of food. Dark thick slices of ham were carefully arranged on one side of the platter, black bread and pickles on the other side. It looked like the same ham we had eaten at the hotel in Bratislava the day before, the same ham we had eaten in the grimy yet elegant cafĂ© in Prague. No matter what we’d tried to order from the menus, we were served ham for some reason, ham in some guise.

Ham was everywhere in this part of the world, but this ham - Anna’s brother’s ham - though it may have been the same as the others, tasted somehow quite different.

It had the texture of leather - tough, over-salted and difficult to chew. Yet it was a ham of some merit and distinction in that particular season, in that specific year, at that exceptional time.

As we left that night the starless sky smelled of coal and snow and hope. The car seeped little bursts of heat as we backed down the driveway, Anna waving to us with her brother’s arm firmly around her shoulders. We turned for one last look before driving away towards Vienna. Anna’s fourteen-year-old nephew (who had told us as we all chewed together on the tensile ham with crisp pickles and soft thick bread that he wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up) ran from the house out to our car. As I rolled down the window he thrust a few thin cardboard boxes into my hands. In English (for he could speak it enough to translate for his father) he called through the window.

“Here, please. Take these – we make them right here in this town. My father makes them. Happy Christmas!”

I looked down through the thin cellophane front of the top box. Scrolls of white and gold glitter gleamed from delicate glass Christmas tree ornaments tucked into the sagging paper box. We drove off into the dark night. My fingers kept running over the rough glittery embroidery in the moonlight and the taste of tough spicy impossible-to-chew ham lingered on my tongue. It was not the sort of ham I would have bought if I'd had a choice.

Yet surely
it was a ham of some merit and distinction in that particular season, in that specific year, at that exceptional time.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Real Veal Question

                                        Photo Flickr-Hypnotic Aubergine

An e-mail came with a question:

I am making lasagna for Christmas (no meat) and I wanted to accompany it with veal. For 15 people, veal roast seems prohibitively expensive. I can get veal stew cubes and scallopine. I don't want to do veal parm - too redundant. Any suggestions? I was looking at Marcella Hazan's recipe for veal spedini - but it looks like my choices of veal are limited and the cuts will be too tough. 
If you can reply, I would be grateful.

My favorite veal recipes often seem to include artichokes, Joyce. 

I've found a recipe online which might work within your criteria.

The only note I would make is that if you can not get fresh baby artichokes frozen ones are preferable to canned. Actually if only canned are available I wouldn't bother to make it! :)

With the lasagne alongside, I would simply add a tossed salad of baby greens (or for something more elegant add orange segments and red onion slivers) for a wonderful, interesting, and very festive meal.

Sugar: Many Ways of Sweetness

                                                    Photo Flickr-Phil Gyford

Are there different ways to be "sweet"? Women are defined in general presumption to be like the rhyme "sugar and spice and everything nice" (whether we wish to be or not)(personally I have no problem with the sugar or spice part but that word "nice" does tend to grate on my nerves)(nice nice nice blech)(reminds me of how guys sometimes look at a girl and say "Smile!" to her. Pah. Smile yourself, my friend.)

Does sugar have more than one flavor or bite?

I decided to look to sugarplums for wisdom.

Sugarplums are thought of as a Christmas sweet - though many people have never seen or tasted one. What are they?

Fast Food Feminist put on her detective hat to find out.

Food tells us that sugarplums were originally sugar coated coriander, rather like the sugar coated seeds which many know from the end of a meal at an Indian restaurant. In olden times these were called "comfits". Comforting things.

tells us that Queen Isabella and Benjamin Franklin loved sugarplums. I'm not sure whether that fact will make me run out to chow down on some, though the examples shown are well-rounded and solidly bourgeois and even look as if one alone might make a delicious meal.

has a different take on the sugarplum, saying they may have been actual plums preserved in sugar. I wish sugar could preserve me, too, but so far there is no proof that this could occur.

website has an excellent recipe for sugarplums made in the Victorian fashion (always so jolly, you know) that includes crystallized ginger, which I personally adore. It's pretty fast to make, too.

Those who prefer the intellectual gourmandism of Saveur Magazine
will likely swear by the recipe provided in their forums.

There is a blogger named Sugarplum
who this year did not make sugarplums at all but who instead provided sweetness in life through cranberry-pistachio bark, a recipe I too know and love, as much for its fastness as for its foodie-ness and imagined femininity though of course one does have to imagine a bit to guess at that.

knows sugarplums as wild plums to be gathered from the fertile earth, then to be carefully laid out, sugared and dried. A simple feast, an earthy thing of honor.

The women who write in the Traditional Witches Forum
speak of the same ingredients and technique for sugarplums as Saveur does. Which brings to mind the question: Does a rose by any other name smell as sweet? 

Playing on the sweetness and light of sugarplums, 
gives us a recipe for Sugarplum Tofu with Udon. Another way of sweetness, this one with a corporate relations link at the top of the page.

Sugarplums are many things, of differing varieties. 

Therefore sugar apparently is as you like it, if we follow the wisdom of sugarplums. 

Friday, December 21, 2007

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice (Burger King Too)

Sugar and spice and everything nice, that's what little girls are made of.

Debating this issue could take some time, then equal time would needed for snips and snails and puppy dogs tails.

The press of the season is upon us and dashing about here and there must happen instead.

Ho, ho, ho. Meeeeeerrrrrry Christmas!

Tomorrow and over the next few days I'll write about some sugary spicy things. 

In the meanwhile the decision must be made: While we're out shopping and meeting and greeting, what will we eat? Shall I pack a picnic basket all cozy and sweet (and time-consuming)? Will we go to an independent small restaurant and risk the usual fifty-fifty chance of having a meal that is terribly inconsistent besides not being inexpensive? Shall we go to Starbucks and get sick and disgusted while at the same time being subject to highway robbery for the silliest drinks known to man or woman? Or will it be a chain restaurant where the dog food is glossed over with colored ink and warmed up for our pleasure.

After consideration of all of these options, the fast food feminist's choice just might be Burger King. 

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Goose is Getting Fat

Christmas is coming the goose is getting fat 
Please do put a penny in the old man's hat

What do fat geese, pennies and old men have to do with being a fast food feminist?

A lot, when Christmas approaches.

When Christmas approaches, old men young men and women of all ages must think about eating or making food. Christmas consumes and is consumed and even creates consumers just by its existence.

Geese are a traditional food for some people at this time - the image of a golden roasted goose set in the middle of the table by Mom to be carved by Dad as the young children with beaming faces eagerly clasp their hands on their linen napkins to avoid being too much trouble is one set in the mind for the ages.

We won't mess with goose, though (nor the idea of that perfect diorama shown of human life) - not today. Instead from the goose we'll take the idea of foie gras.

Foie gras is a "slow" food to those that make it initially, in the fields, on the farm - regardless of one's take on whether or not it is a "nice" food. When it arrives to the consumer though, it is a fast food as not much needs to be done to it to make an awesome quick bite. The only problem with foie gras is that most people simply can not (or will not) afford to pay for it.

We can include other poultry in our thinking perhaps, as fast food feminists. Chickens are poultry, too - and a faux foie (say that quickly five times) can be easily and inexpensively made. Richness is important -texture - in foie gras, so this recipe has a lot lot lot of butter. Eat it with caution rather than abandon, though it is truly delicious.

If you have people around who like the idea of eating liver, here is the recipe:

Chicken Liver Pate

1/4 lb. butter (1 stick)
1 C chopped onions
1/2 C chopped shallots or scallions
2 cloves garlic
1 lb. chicken livers, drained cleaned and dried
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste
3/4 tsp. dry thyme
1/3 C sherry
1/2 tsp. allspice
Cayenne (pinch) 
1/4 lb. butter (1 stick) slightly softened

Action Plan
1. Heat one half the stick of butter, and saute the onions, shallots or scallions, and garlic till soft.

2. Remove onion mix from pan and add the other half stick of butter. Clarify the butter. * (To clarify butter heat till the milkfats rise to the surface then skim them off and discard them.) Saute chicken livers for five to six minutes over medium to high heat - adding salt pepper and thyme. 

3. Remove chicken livers from pan. Deglaze pan with sherry.

4. Mix onions, livers, and deglazing juices. Chop roughly by hand or use food processor (carefully, while watching texture) if you like a smoother blend. 

5. Chill in refrigerator.

6. When mixture has cooled, cream the additional stick of butter and add to pate, blending well.

7. Chill again and serve with crackers, cornichons, and sliced radishes. 

8. Goes well with champagne.

If you are around people who do not like to eat liver, this fast pate can be replaced with oven-baked mini corn dogs accompanied by mustard as a dip. 

It is Christmas after all, and I have heard that Jesus has love for all people, even including those who like to eat mass-produced freezer-section corn dogs.

It's not about the goose, in other words. It's about the old man's hat.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What Is a Fast Food Feminist, Anyway?

                                                           Photo Flickr-kithfan21

A fast food feminist can come from any walk of life. It is an inclusive category of person - you can be one at any age, you can be any sex, you can like any sex or even not like any sex at all if that is how you like to be.

You must be engaged in three things in order to be a fast food feminist. You must be engaged in fastness, you must be engaged with the food you eat, and you must be some sort of feminist.

In order to be categorized as some sort of feminist you must be interested in the welfare of those who are feminine. In this case when one is speaking about someone who is feminine one is speaking about women grouped by gender or by sex who live in the real world - one is usually not speaking about a concept or an idea or an ideal. Some sort of knowledge is presumed to be held as a feminist about the history of women as a group - from times long ago up to the closer-to-present time, when now in some places women are allowed to legally be considered people and not chattel or possessions.

In order to be categorized as being engaged with the food you eat you must be willing to look beyond simple teeth-gnashing hunger into the more expansive categories that engaging with food involves. Memory, culture, social mores and psychology are just the tip of the iceberg (those things that exist in the North Pole, not the lettuce though certainly we can discuss lettuce later!) along with an interested and discriminatory palate that does not consider a plate of food a trough to be analyzed mostly for size, quantity, and price.

In order to be categorized as being engaged in fastness the thought of how to best spend the limited hours of life must consume at least part of the thinking process each day, with the pros and cons of "faster is better" or "slower is more fulfilling" or "finish what you started" or "first things first" or "how can I talk on a cellphone, send IM's, watch the news on TV, keep up with my work, and keep my hair perfect at the same time" sometimes entering into the thought process to be sifted, sorted, and ultimately decided or not.

That just about describes what a fast food feminist is. 

It's not only about "fast food".

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Fast Food Feminists - Are They Born or Made?

                                 Photo Flickr-CherrySoda!                              

The question often comes up: "How did you become a fast food feminist? Were you born that way? Or did something happen that made you become one?"

The answer to this may be different for each fast food feminist and since all feminists of any tenor are as different as snowflakes are from each other, the answer is not a simple one.

In my case, it's doubtful I was born as a fast food feminist. There are no instances recorded of my having refused breast milk (though I do believe it was not offered - in those days the idea of breast-feeding a baby was considered a rather disgusting thing to do in my mother's social group), no tales of my having pushed aside a fresh ear of corn on the cob to reach for a can of cream corn, no times when a home-made beef stew was dissed in favor of a bag of Doritos. None of these things happened that would hint at a fast food feminist made by nature as opposed to nurture.

Even later there were no marks of my being a fast food feminist. Not when I learned to cook, when I baked bread in the French manner in an oven with baking stones eagerly purchased and spray bottles excitedly filled, not when I boned a goose and made four purees of various things to stuff and tie and roast it while basting with a mixture of a difficult-to-find brandy mixed with goose stock made from giblets and aromatic vegetables and fresh herbs. You certainly would not imagine that I was a fast food feminist when I was a professional chef - my kitchen was run with the best of ingredients cooked as perfectly and classically as one might want who might want these things. No frozen or canned vegetables - no cake mixes or bought pastries - no spice blends or any other similar things were part of my professional kitchen.

Later as a wife and mother still the mark of fast food feminist could not be found as I merrily cooked three meals a day each day including getting up at two in the morning to make lovely hot meals for my hard-working husband whose job as a restaurant manager kept him working late shifts (and, as I discovered later -  busy entertaining the waitresses in certain vital carnal ways before returning home for his gourmet meal which he insisted he really needed and so loved in the wee hours of the morning as the children slept, as I rather groggily sauteed onions and tossed herbs here and there into the pots and pans while listening to his tales of the difficulties of his job and how his boss was a jerk) and the thought of boxed cereal did not even then enter my mind as a fabulous option for my children's breakfast when I got up to make that four hours later.

By looking closely at these examples it appears that in my case, a fast food feminist was not born but rather made.

The instance of this is clear in my mind, and I will tell you all about it.