Archive | Country Matters

On Food TV and Our Hunger for a Hearth

cooked“Cooked,” Michael Pollan’s new four-part Netflix docuseries about cooking past and present, features Pollan the historian, Pollan the sociologist, Pollan the aspiring chef, and, yes, Pollan the wrangler. He may not be wagging his finger at us as emphatically as he often does (see: The Omnivore’s Dilemma, “Food Inc.”) but the journalist can’t help but shame us about our terrible habits regarding the industry, preparation, and consumption of food. Though entertainingly educational and far gentler than his usual treatises, this is not a show to watch while eating. This is a show to watch while cooking – preferably from scratch.

As our own cooking efforts dwindle – Pollan estimates that the average American spends twenty-seven minutes a day on food preparation, which is less than half the time spent in 1962 – the amount of hours we log watching food television and cinema is on a major uptick. On one hand, the reason hardly requires spelling out: Who doesn’t love deliciousness? But the real reasons may be closer to the bottomless hunger we feel when eating Wonder Bread. Having stripped the wheat of its original nutrition, we crave the kind of nourishment that no amount of “enrichment” can confer. Though modern life has made it possible and even pragmatic for us to eat meals we have not prepared ourselves, we benefit emotionally, physically, and spiritually from cooking in ways that continue to haunt us. Some have attempted to rectify this void by taking part in the slow-food movement. But many more have developed the habit of eating supermarket rotisserie chickens and Trader Joe’s tikka masala while watching others cook on TV and in movies. Continue Reading →

Beyoncé in Center Field

Beyoncé at the Super Bowl. Arranging her dancers in an X formation, strapping everyone into Black Power gear. Throwing back her throat, pumping her fist, singing with all her ancient power and youth:

Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper.

Every time I think of what she pulled off, I start crying. In every way, she is using her center field to say: wake up, wake up, WAKE UP, America. The least we can do is listen.

The Cheeseball Stands Alone

Twice today I cracked myself up while everyone around me remained stony-faced. First, after agreeing to review “99 Homes,” I bellowed “AND A BITCH AIN’T ONE. ” (Crickets.) Then, while discussing a financial issue, I bellowed, “MO MONEY, MO PROBLEMS.” (More crickets.) Perhaps the latter statement seemed too pathetically fantastical to be funny, given that I am notoriously un-moneyed. Perhaps a blond middle-aged lady barking rap lyrics was simply too problematic to be funny in any context. Either way, it is a good thing I am very confident that I am an absolutely highlarious human being or else I’d be developing a complex right about now.

I’m kind of joking (again) but it’s true that even when people don’t find me funny–which, quixotically, happens all the time— I tend to amuse myself. This may be an essential quality if you’re going to live alone, an argument for why ladies like me are best left to our own devices, or a genuinely radical act. I’m wondering if it’s all three. After all, given that most women are taught to titter at guys’ witticisms rather than attempt any of their own–given that most women are trained not to take up space, period–it’s an enormous transgression to say, “Fuck it, man. I’m just going to bust out these jokes regardless of whether you laugh.” And on that note, if none else, I am serious as a heart attack.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy