I’m a reader, a writer, a cook, and (admittedly amateur) photographer. And, apparently, a blogger. Here, I celebrate and share my love for food and cooking. In June 2012 I got my PhD in English literature, marking myself as someone who celebrates words – the way they feel on the tongue, the way they situate themselves into meaning. It seems fitting that my great loves – cooking and words – should be combined in this way, here, in this funny little virtual space.
Blackberries are important to this blog not because they show up in lots of recipes, but because in literature they are often invoked as an idea of adventure and experimentation linked with words. Falstaff and Prince Hal go “blackberry picking” in King Henry IV, Part I. Galway Kinnell, from whom the title of the blog was taken, compares overripe, dew-drenched blackberries to certain mysterious words; both “squinch open” their unbidden juiciness at the urge of his tongue.
During graduate school I studied medieval literature, focusing on bodies and their consumptive practices, whether those be gluttonous or abstemious, steamy or straight. Within medieval tradition, theologians like Bede and Augustine compared reading to eating in a tradition called ruminatio: students of Scripture were directed to metaphorically “chew” the text, meditating and contemplating it, rolling it around like a cow chews her cud. If reading is analogous to eating, in the mother of all SAT analogies, writing must be analogous to cooking. As I put together ingredients in my kitchen, adding the correct quantities in the correct way, following procedure to produce a delicious meal, then here I put together the right words, choosing carefully and ordering well to give you a delicious reading experience. Thus I combine these two facets of myself.
I try to report here not just on major successes, but on process. As an eternal student, what interests me is delicious, beautiful dishes, true. But just as interesting are the so-so results, and even the failures: the dressing that wasn’t quite right. The custard that didn’t set. The homely loaf. I want not only to produce successful food, but to learn about why things didn’t turn out the way I intended. I think that helps us all get better together.
Let’s cook, then, and eat, and learn. Across this virtual table together. I can’t wait to dig in.