Sunday, November 25, 2012

Expectations-Cosmo's Cucina


I’m not going to lie, my expectations for the food at Cosmo’s Cucina were pretty much on point. I had observed their website with their menu and they followed through. The food was flavorful, seasonal, creative and different. I could taste it in the dipping oil for the bread, the pasta special, the scallops and the avocado burger. If anything I would say they even exceeded my expectations. The appetizers, the food they were all delicious.
            What did surprise me a little was the atmosphere. I had walked past the Cosmo’s Cucina building before not ever realizing that Cosmo’s was above O’Duffys. So after dining there I felt a little cheated that I had walked past the restaurant so many times without even realizing it. In my head, I had equated Cosmo’s to Food Dance, and while they are similar in food, the atmosphere is different. In Cosmo’s there’s brick walls, candles, it’s home like and historic, there’s dim lighting and it’s a smaller area. This added surprise really lent itself to the experience. These additions made the meal feel more special, quiet, and tasty unlike my expectations.
            While I did not explore an other by ethnicity standards of food, Cosmo’s is definitely a sort of other that can make one question the authenticity of an experience. I thoroughly believed through taste and presentation that the food was undoubtedly made with better ingredients, the combinations proved this difference as well. This was also an other experience as I had never eaten at Cosmo’s before, therefore by eating there I had tried someplace/something new.
            Into other food tourist experiences I will take the idea of being open minded. While it’s good to have preconceived notions about a place, it is also good to have the initiative to try new places. It’s made me value all the aspects of a meal. If I have learned anything it is that context is everything. It is not just the food that makes up an experience, but the people we’re with, the atmosphere, the music. These are all things that helped develop my experience at Cosmo’s Cucina and I cannot wait to go back. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Process Writing


As with most of my writing in the past I considered writing this quarter to be kind of a puke and finger paint experience. Yes, this is gross sounding, but let me explain. In order to write anything I just have to throw it out there (that’s the puke part) and then rearrange it to make it have some sort of flow, meaning, form etc. (that’s the finger paint part). Therefore, mostly when I write I just have to throw myself headfirst, honestly, into whatever experience I’m trying to convey.
This was no different with food and travel writing however I found the finger paint part to be a little more difficult than usual. I knew almost nothing about journalism coming into the class, so at times this was unnatural and frustrating. As the class came to the conclusion that my food critic piece sounded more like poetic opinion I realized that I was learning something different every day, and I loved it. And well, I’m not looking to become more than a poetic viewpoint anytime soon I enjoyed thoroughly learning about a new style of writing especially through the lens of food.
The whole food and place experiences give a new and dare I say it, fresh look to writing. I know I will never have to go wordless as long as I have food and memories. Apart from that, I can no longer eat a meal without bringing up something from the omnivore’s dilemma, oops.
I found the discussions in class extremely valuable to forming reading responses and interacting with our readings. I also found my classmates’ opinions to be helpful in the editing process. Everyone in our class had such a different perspective and language that any different viewpoint gave me a different way to see my writing and myself. These differences were vital in revision over the course of the quarter.
At times I disagreed with the class’s suggestions, especially with the end of my memoir. The end of that piece was incredibly personal to me and I felt as if I needed to make sure that it rang true with the experience.
Ultimately this course gave me new language, lenses to write through, and a love of food along with writing. Our class became a little opinionated family that helped each other grow in our writing and I am incredibly thankful for that. I now feel as if I have the tools to think more critically, globally, and as a writer thanks to food, place, and our class. 

Perfect Meal Final


I come from a family that has mastered the art of the production. So when I found myself at the grocery store after a long day of classes with an even longer list on a highlighter colored sticky note I couldn’t help but take an anxious breath. I am nothing like my mother. I realized I have no idea how to cook a meal for actual people.
I traced my memory back to the shuffle of the kitchen when my mom threw dinner parties for her and her friends, and well, my mom could pull it off better than anyone I’ve ever met. In my memory there was my mom holding a glass of wine in her soft hands. She was sliding plates of appetizers into the foyer with the sounds of her necklaces jingling. There was everything from clam dip to cilantro dip. She was pulling buttered and baked noodles out of an oven in heels, fixing a flank steak, all while carrying on a conversation with a family friend. The long oak table was elegantly set with seasonally appropriate table runners and candles. She was smiling, she never forgot anything, and there was music softly playing in the background. I never remember being left with a bad taste in my mouth.
I must have picked up something. I had forty-five minutes to complete the shopping for the perfect meal in time to meet my sister back at Crissey Hall, Kalamazoo College.
            When I thought about the perfect meal my mind first came to comfort food, however the comfort food I think of has nothing to do with the comfort food in the cafeteria.
Mac n Cheese, a comfort food staple, has been ruined by the cafeteria. The flavorless noodles that are saturated with some strange cheese glop just doesn’t have the same appeal as Mac N Cheese made with actual cheese. So, that’s what I set out to do, ease my friends’ nearing exam stress with the perfect comfort food.
            The menu planned was my mom’s baked Mac n cheese with a breaded top, green beans, and for dessert, Funfetti cupcakes.
            Next I needed rules. Don’t all well planned events follow some sort of etiquette? I decided that I would do all the planning, buying, cooking and baking alone as a present to a few friends who had been extra supportive over the course of my fall quarter. My roommates Tess, Maddy, and Erin would be attending, my sister Grace, a new friend Morgan who lived in the same dorm, a writer friend Eric, and my ex boyfriend Jordan. We were a motley crue to say the least, but it was okay as long as everyone came hungry.
            Into my cart went Gruyere cheese, pecorino Romano cheese, and sharp white cheddar cheese, soft white bread, vanilla frosting, and pounds of elbow macaroni. I snatched other necessities for a meal off of the neatly organized shelves. I traced back and forth through the fluorescent lighting of Harding’s. As I checked out I realized that feeding a huge group of people for fifty dollars wasn’t that bad. I was glad I had splurged and gotten the nicer cheese.
            I unloaded my plastic bags on the table of the Crissey Hall Kitchen while my roommate Tess carried down skillets, salt, and a mixing bowl. Jordan arrived with cayenne pepper, and black pepper.
            I have never wished that I could have more arms as much as I did then. I needed one to shoo Tess away from the stove, another to whisk the hot milk with the butter, and another to toss the bread in a buttered mixture while grating the three blocks of cheese.
            I realized then I didn’t have any cupcake papers. Something once as trivial as cupcake papers then seemed like I had forgotten something as integral to cooking as say, one of the two arms that I actually do have. Tess ran upstairs only to bring down a flimsy silicon cake pan, it then looked as if dessert would consist of funfetti cake instead.
            My sister Grace arrived from my hometown with a casserole tin and a cheese grater. I was in business. I had two ovens blazing, noodles cooking, and milk, butter, flour and cheese hardening into a cheese sauce.
            “But I’m hungry now,” Tess said, “Let me help.”
            Breaking my own rule that I would cook the entire meal myself, I handed over the whisk. Eric and Morgan arrived next.
            The kitchen was hot but my friends kept the conversation going over the Modest Mouse CD I had playing quietly. They were laughing about how horribly a Developmental Psychology exam had gone, they were talking about the first jobs they ever had.  It started to feel less like a stressful production and more like comfort. I put the cake in the oven, sliding it in natural just like my mom would have done.
            But then, the cheese sauce wouldn’t thicken, but it was something that we could laugh at. Jordan told a story about how once I had broiled a tin of banana bread by accident. Eric explained how overrated perfect is. We were all friends. It was fine.
            The cheese sauce became a whole with the noodles and was poured into the buttered casserole dish. I didn’t even spill, but I held my breath the whole time. I felt like a kid playing the game of Operation. I layered the buttered, torn bread over the top of the noodles.
            The pan was heavy like good comfort food should be, and the oven was warm as I slid the Mac n cheese into its open mouth.
            The cake was ready to come out of the other oven and I set it on the cold burner to breathe.
            I set my eyes on steaming the green beans next. I had already clipped the ends and I carefully placed them on the steamer above the boiling pot of water. The lip had to rest on top of the beans’ slender stalks, as there wasn’t as much room in the pot as I had planned. Lifting the lid to check on them led to instant steam burn.
            “Shit,” I said.
            Grace misinterpreted my use of shit to mean that I had done something horribly unalterable to the food.
            “I’m willing to lie to you and tell you that the food is good,” Grace said.
            That’s what sisters are for.
            Next I had to figure out how to get the cake in all of its confetti colored glory out of the cake pan.
            “Flip it,” was being chanted throughout the Crissey basement kitchen, and I’ve never been one to not take a dare, and so I did it. I took the flimsy pan with the funfetti cake and turned it upside down onto a piece of paper napkin. The no stick silicon had decided to take a few chunks prisoner, but the cake, on the whole, flipped. I used the whole can of frosting, apart from what fingers had already swiped from the jar.
            What I couldn’t forget is that cake tastes like cake no matter what shape it’s in. I am not my mother. Not yet, anyways.
            Modest Mouse had switched to The Mountain Goats and the smells from the baked Mac N Cheese were starting to gush out from the oven. It was done.
            I had to use huge hunks of cardboard to manage to slide the heavy casserole dish out into the kitchen. Sometimes college students have to improvise. The bread on top was golden brown and the cheese sauce had decided to thicken to its desired consistency.
            Perfection.
            Maddy and Erin, two of my other roommates arrived in perfect time with their forks. We were all ready to eat.  It was a Friday night so there was talk of evening plans, but other than that it was silent and appreciative.
            There is something about eating together that is such a unifying experience. We felt happy because we didn’t slide our plates along a conveyor belt in order for food to be splashed across the blue surface. We had privacy in the otherwise empty kitchen.
Even though I was the only one who had shopped, grated cheese, and attempted to create a production of comfort food, everyone had taken part in the creation of the meal just by being there. Was it a production like one of my mother’s? The answer would have to be no, not for now, but there was definitely an element of perfection anyways. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Final Memoir


A Memoir in Veins
When I say chicken veins, I think of chicken veins in all of their glory. I imagine the sinewy texture of them, like rubber, an opaque white with chicken drumstick batter flecking the surface. I imagine chicken veins in my teeth, in my hair, stuffed into the crevices in a lunchbox, in between my toes. The chicken veins, they loop around my fingers like rings.
When I say chicken drumsticks I imagine cold, fleshy, battered, glowing, white bone. I think of biting down on the flakiness of it. I taste the deli spices on my tongue. I can’t decide if they’re cheap, or delicious, or both. I think of licking the grease off my fingers when no one is watching. I find some pleasure when I slip the bones back inside a lunchbox. I feel the pleasure in being invisible with my bones and my veins to myself.
Growing up, I was, what one would call a nerd. I stood at 5’9 by the time I was in middle school as a regular girl giant. I believed hair gel was essential to every ponytail, I had baby fat despite my growth spurt, and I loved doing history homework. In this description of my middle school self I am ignoring my blue wire rim glasses, and the love poems that were scrawled into all of my notebooks, because I am too embarrassed to incorporate those things. If only I could tell my fifth grade self that Derek Klingaman turned out not to be so cool after all, maybe I could have stopped scrawling his name onto every available inch of paper.
            Now, you have to take into consideration how middle school is by definition. Kids are mean, and it is a cruel, wild world. In the cafeteria I was afraid to throw out my trash after lunch due to the sheer fact that I would have to walk in front of the entire cafeteria to do so.
My lunch was always packed by my mother in a blue insulated lunch box. All of my friends got to use paper bags. My mom told me that it was important to not be wasteful. I told my mom it was important to survive middle school so that you could move on with the rest of your life.
Often in this blue lunchbox, my lunch would be comprised of chicken drumsticks from Felpausch, the local grocery store. While my mom thought this was a special kind of lunchtime treat, I found it horrifying. Yes, the chicken veins. They laced through the flesh. They wound around the bone. Since I never faced my fear of throwing out food in the cafeteria, these chicken veins found their post lunch home within the insulation of the lunch box.
After school it was my duty to attend dance class. Ballet, Jazz and Tap were the best ways for all of us to spend Monday afternoons together. Our mothers decided this. This was before I actually loved dance. This was when dance leotards were the worst things ever invented. I went to dance with the same group of girls that I grew up with, and they were the same group of girls that tortured the hell out of me on a regular basis. I never could understand why our parents insisted that we were friends. It was due to this insistence that I was included, but as an outsider.
While I took tap class the rest of the girls got to sit on the wooden bench in the lobby that was inside of the girls’ dressing room. Their mothers didn’t make them take tap like mine did. My mom told me it’s important to try everything. I told my mom that it’s important to survive dance class so you can move on with the rest of your life.
On that fated day I had chicken drumsticks for lunch along with their veiny counterparts. Those girls had figured out that I hid the veins in baggies in the corner; they had found my next weakness.
I left the resin filled dance studio to rejoin my “friends,” untie my tap shoes, brush out my coarse pony tail, put on my boots to go home. As soon as I pulled the brush through my hair and began to slide on my boots the group of girls erupted into laughter.
I remember my face getting flushed. I remember self-consciously going over everything I had just done to find the error in my actions. I remember the constriction of my throat, the rising heat through my body.
            Lucy called, “Chicken veins,” and they all laughed as if chicken veins in their stringed glory were the worst possible fate for any food, or in my case, girl. I remember the first tear that slid out, like hot embarrassment. It came fast like the surprise that the chicken must have felt in the slaughterhouse.
The girls filed out, their soft ponytails bobbing. I pulled chicken veins out of the bristles of the hairbrush, out of the soft corners of my lined boots. I sat there with the chicken veins on my lap. I was able to fully cry by then, alone in the girls’ dressing room.
            Miss Tricia heard me. She was my dance teacher then, and the epitome of everything I wanted to grow up to be. She was sweet, patient, and graceful. She was like the light at the end of the tunnel for me in my awkward changing body. She saw the chicken veins, she saw my tears, and in a fit of anger that I had never seen Miss Tricia display she whispered between tight lips, “They’re just jealous Kate, they’re just jealous.”
            I threw away the chicken veins on my way out the door. They made a satisfying swish noise as I dropped them into the tin trashcan. I walked out into the snow, I got into my mom’s mini van, I went home. 
            My mom looked at me as I strayed in the hallway near the kitchen. She opened her mouth and then closed it. I walked upstairs to peel the layer of dance leotard off my body before she could say anything else.
I like to think that she would have told me that being different was in my best interest. I like to think that I would have believed her, then.
I may have grown up, but the veiny taste of chicken drumsticks has not escaped me. I remember once sitting on the floor of the dance studio examining the veins in my feet while I pointed my toes. I now like to think of the veins in my changing awkward body while I was still a child dancing as the same veins in my body now. These veins are tough, they are sinewy, they are what carries the life through our bodies. This rare, blood mixture of who and what we are highlights our differences, yet at the same time is our common thread.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Seasonal Shopping List

Shop Right!

Pictures From The Perfect Meal





The Perfect Meal


I come from a family that has mastered the art of the production. So when I found myself at the grocery store after a long day of classes with an even longer list on a highlighter colored sticky note I could help but inhale a deep breath of anxiety, I am nothing like my mother. I realized I have no idea how to cook a meal for actual people.
I traced my memory back to the shuffle of the kitchen when my mom threw dinner parties for her and her friends, and well, my mom could pull it off better than anyone I’ve ever met. I must have picked up something. I had forty-five minutes to complete the shopping for the perfect meal in time to meet my sister back at Crissey Hall, Kalamazoo College.
            When I think about the perfect meal my mind first came to comfort food, however the comfort food I think of has nothing to do with the comfort food in the cafeteria.
Mac n Cheese, a comfort food staple, has been ruined by the cafeteria. The noodles flavorless saturated with some strange cheese glop just doesn’t have the same appeal as Mac N Cheese made with actual cheese. So, that’s what I set out to do, ease my friends nearing exam stress with the perfect comfort food.
            The menu planned was my mom’s baked Mac n cheese with a breaded top, green beans, and for dessert, Funfetti cupcakes.
            Into my cart went Gruyere cheese, pecorino Romano cheese, and sharp white cheddar cheese, soft white bread, vanilla frosting, and pounds of elbow macaroni. I snatched other necessities for a meal off of the neatly organized shelves. I traced back and forth through the fluorescent lighting of Harding’s.
            I unloaded my plastic bags on the table of the Crissey Hall Kitchen while my roommate Tess carried down skillets, salt, and a mixing bowl, Jordan arrived with cayenne pepper, and black pepper.
            I have never wished that I could have more arms as much as I did then. I needed one to shoo Tess away from the stove, another to whisk the hot milk with the butter, and another to toss the bread in a buttered mixture while grating the three blocks of cheese.
            I realized I didn’t have any cupcake papers. Something once as trivial as cupcake papers then seemed like I had forgotten something as integral to cooking as say, one of the two arms that I actually do have. Tess ran upstairs only to bring down a flimsy silicon cake pan, it then looked as if dessert would consist of funfetti cake instead.
            My sister Grace arrived from my hometown with a casserole tin and a cheese grater. I was in business. I had two ovens blazing, noodles cooking, and milk, butter, flour and cheese hardening into a cheese sauce.
            “But I’m hungry now,” Tess said, “Let me help.”
            Breaking my own rule that I would cook the entire meal myself, I handed over the whisk.
            Eric and Morgan arrived next.
            The kitchen was hot but my friends kept the conversation going over the modest mouse CD I had playing quietly. They were laughing about how horribly a Developmental Psychology exam had gone, they were talking about the first jobs they ever had.  It started to feel less like a stressful production and more like comfort. I put the cake in the oven.
            The cheese sauce wouldn’t thicken, but it was something that we could laugh at. Jordan told a story about how once I had broiled a tin of banana bread by accident. Eric explained how overrated perfect is, we were all friends, it was fine.
            The cheese sauce became a whole with the noodles and was poured into the buttered casserole dish. I didn’t even spill, but I held my breath the whole time. I felt like a kid playing the game of operation. I layered the buttered, torn bread over the top of the noodles.
            The pan was heavy like good comfort food should be, and the oven was warm as I slid the Mac n cheese into its open mouth.
            The cake was ready to come out of the other oven and I set it on the cold burner to breathe.
            I set my eyes on steaming the green beans next. I had already clipped the ends and I carefully placed them on the steamer above the boiling pot of water. The lip had to rest on top of the beans slender stalks, as there wasn’t as much room in the pot as I had planned. Lifting the lid to check on their tender green stalks led to instant steam burn.
            “Shit,” I said.
            “I’m willing to lie to you and tell you that the food is good,” Grace said.
            That’s what sisters are for.
            Next I had to figure out how to get the cake in all of its confetti colored glory out of the cake pan.
            “Flip it,” was being yelled throughout the Crissey basement kitchen, and I’ve never been one to not take a dare, and so I did it. The no stick silicon had decided to take a few chunks prisoner, but the cake on a whole flipped. I used the whole can of frosting, apart from what fingers had already swiped from the jar.
            What I couldn’t forget is that cake tastes like cake no matter what shape it’s in.
I am not my mother. Not yet, anyways.
            Modest mouse had switched to The Mountain Goats and the smells from the baked Mac N Cheese were starting to gush out from the oven.
It was done.
            I had to use huge hunks of cardboard to manage to slide the heavy casserole dish out into the kitchen. Sometimes college students have to improvise. The bread on top was golden brown and the cheese sauce had decided to thicken to its desired consistency.
            Perfection.
            Maddy and Erin, two of my other roommates arrived in perfect time with their forks.
We were all ready to eat.
            It was a Friday night so there were talks of evening plans, but other than that it was silent and appreciative.
            There is something about eating together that is such a unifying experience. We felt happy because we didn’t slide our plates along a conveyor belt in order for food to be splashed across the blue surface. We had privacy in the otherwise empty kitchen.
Even though I was the only one who had shopped, grated cheese, and attempted to create a production of comfort food, everyone had taken part in the creation of the meal just by being there.
And that, just like the taste of the sharp cheddar and the buttered and crunchy bread, the salted green beans, and the sweet, frosted, slightly sad looking cake was completely perfect. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Reading Response Seven


            There’s something about the phrase, “you’ve got a live one on the rail,” that haunted me during my dinner at Stacks. I kept picturing this animal suffering in order to become my dinner that I was hardly appreciating at 10 pm. On a tangent I thought about this environmental ethics class that I had to take over the summer after Pollan mentioned Aldo Leopold. Leopold was in charge of hunting and killing wolves out west. After he and a friend heartlessly slaughtered a mother and a few of her cubs as they were crossing a river Leopold came face to face with the dying wolf. Leopold saw something in the wolf's eyes that changed him forever and now he's this hugely talked about environmental ethics guys. Just an interesting side story, you should look into it. Katherine, Kelsey, and Joe were all witnesses to me eating, book in hand. I devoured my salami Panini and while I enjoyed it a foul taste stayed in my mouth. While I was attempting to swallow the meat from who knows where (dare I ask Sodexo?) I also was thinking about how Marin talks about the importance of transparency. We value transparency in journalists, administration, etc. and yet the masses are not yet calling for transparency in food. Pollan discusses the importance of meet and decide and how if you know where your food is from you can then choose if you have any interest in eating this. This makes so much sense to me, especially how realizing the damage that even eating an egg can do in a seemingly harmless situation. You’re not even saved by vegetarianism; don’t try telling that to my little sister Grace, she refuses to even listen to the word meat anymore. I shot a gun like once in my life. I was visiting with two of my guy friends and they made me take aim out of a window at a woodpile. I cringed as I pulled the trigger and I haven’t shot one since. I was trying to analyze my experience as thinking about hunting. I look forward to discussing these different methods of obtaining food and their implications. As Pollan mentioned in the section of his perfect meal, it is so interesting how the body breaks down life in order to sustain life. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Reading Response Six


I’ve decided I like Joel Salatin. I knew there was something intriguing about him when he stepped on the screen in Food Inc. It was funny because there is this stereotype of farmers as stupid, which isn’t really true, but Joel stepped on the screen wearing overalls and this hat and I was like, really? But, as soon as he opened his mouth I felt completely guilty for not giving the guy a chance. He was incredibly articulate, passionate, and really seemed to know what he was talking about. I believe his bit in The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan makes these characteristics of Joel stand out even more.
            I love when he makes Michael Pollan examine the grass, and makes him do farmwork. I think that it’s amazing that he is so unapologetically who he is as this Christian, Conservative, Libertarian, Environmentalist. Joel receives no subsidies for his love of grass such as corn farmers do, and he places his farm above organic, something that he rightfully should after the book’s examination of organic. I mean, maybe I missed something, but I had no idea that organic had turned into such an industrial machine, which, frankly, worries me. I also love that he refuses to ship Michael Pollan food and says that if he wants to try some he’ll have to come to Swoope to try some. I feel like that statement speaks wonders about how he sticks with what he believes.
            I also am intrigued by his home life. In his colonial style home with little to no news, no TV, alcohol, caffeine, and homeschooled children Joel Salatin seems to have regressed into the colonial era of living completely off the grid, and yet, there is definitely a part of me that is jealous. Dr. Boyer Lewis has often told me that no one wants to go back in time, but this actual pastoral image stirs up such a nostalgia, as Pollan puts it, that it’s hard not to. However, I wonder how idealistic it is. I mean, he’s making it work and it’s successful, but is this a realistic dream for food everywhere? If it is are people not doing it because it’s not efficient enough? Do people not think that unsustainable things are called unsustainable for a reason?
            Joel Salatin’s farm is not the imagined image on the cover of some packaging at Whole Foods, and he is not trying to create something that is unnatural, and over complicated, while he is still being complex, he is the real deal, and doesn’t pretend to be something that he’s not. Pollan says, “What makes this pasture’s complexity so much harder for us to comprehend is that it is not a complexity of our making.” (195) There’s something that is so fascinating in the way that it all can work without us, and maybe that’s what’s scary to people in the food industry.

A Review Of Cosmo's Cucina


Located on the corner of Vine and Locust street off of Westnedge, Cosmo’s Cucina is a bit off the beaten path of restaurant areas in Kalamazoo. Cosmo’s resonates with more of neighborhood spot vibe, and  upon walking inside one can see why it is so crowded.
Cosmo’s Cucina is definitely an experience that blends creativity in a comfortable environment for anyone who enjoys fresh and flavorful meals.
The menu at Cosmo’s  is drenched in different blends of creative flavors with fresh ingredients. It falls under the categories of Italian inspired, farm to table (but not exclusively), and is reminiscent of Food Dance with an added home-style feel.
Entering through the lower level of the historic Kalamazoo building and through O’Duffys Pub there are Halloween decorations in the window, which is appropriate for October, and they are paired with lights and people packed in together talking loudly and drinking.
There is no TV in the bar, which is different for most bar scenes, but in this location it is a blessing. The little building that houses both O’Duffy’s and Cosmo’s seems to be a haven from the pressures of the outside world. To get to Cosmo’s it takes a walk through the bar area of O’Duffy’s, past the bathrooms and upstairs to the restaurant in an even more seemingly different world. Upstairs at Cosmo’s is an escape from the loud crashings of O’Duffy’s bar downstairs.
The tables are situated comfortably close together with candles on each one. The brick walls give the room a sort of classic, historic feeling without being outdated. The small window into the kitchen at the back is an eye into a fast paced world where delicious smells waft out with each dish that leaves the kitchen.             
Cosmo’s is the perfect atmosphere for a cold fall night.
But it is also the perfect atmosphere to cultivate new flavors from the expected flavors that restaurant goers are so accustomed too.
The wait staff is incredibly accommodating, holding tables for customers that are late coming out of the rain, and seating them immediately at one of the tables next to a stained glass window that overlooks the street below.
The room is humming with good vibes. Looking over at a party of four the customers are exclaiming about the goat cheese appetizer while gesticulating wildly with their arms, wine glasses in hands.
            The appetizers arrive promptly and begin with Zucchini Fritters. The Zucchini is shredded and pan seared with fresh dill, feta, and served with a yogurt and cucumber sauce. The Zucchini has a smoky flavor that can be confused with a burnt taste, but the cucumber sauce is brilliant, cold, and refreshing.
A harvest salad is then swept onto the table with fresh greens, walnuts, and soft butternut squash. The menu is infused with squash and other seasonally fresh ingredients. The vinaigrette is tasty without being overpowering.
 The Italian Bread is warm and crusty and served in a paper bag, tied with thread. The dipping oil is a plate of olive oil, decorated with herbs, and a balsamic oil reduction, looking so well done that it is a shame to ruin it with the bread. But, after one bite it is difficult to stop tearing off pieces to swipe across the flavorful oil.
            After a little while of waiting and conversation, the meals are ordered after much deliberation. It is difficult to choose between noodle based dishes, risottos, and braised pork tacos. But, looking around, it seems as if it is impossible to choose wrong.
Most of the customers in Cosmo’s are hungrily eating whatever is placed in front of them with smiles, usually engaged in conversations with the people at their tables.
After asking the waiter for the absolute best thing in the restaurant at this particular time, and being told the right choice is a special plate of scallops in coconut curry broth, pan seared with summer squash, limes, and carrots, the dish is soon brought to the table. The waiter says that they are cooked in a cast iron pan that is older than a nearby customer. They taste sweet and spicy and are the perfect amount of tough, fleshiness without being too chewy. The blend of fruits and vegetables that the scallops are cooked with add to the delightfully unexpected punch of flavor.
            Plate two is an avocado burger. With a toasted bun, the Kobe beef is covered in an avocado, corn blend salsa with Chihuahua cheese. Biting down the burger breaks causing a chin wiping juiciness to leave the meat, a burger at its best. Right next to the burger are redskin potatoes with just a little crunch to them, nestling under a blanket of sea salt and spices. They are definitely a filling addition to the meal.
            Plate three is homemade pasta with prosciutto, asiago cheese, and basil. Tangled together with sweet peppers, and halved cherry tomatoes it is a colorful and fall esque dish that doesn’t disappoint. Slurping up the noodles with the pepper and cheesy flavors is absolutely delicious, and there is plenty to take home after the meal.
Cosmo’s website states that they work under the goal of bringing creative and affordable food to Kalamazoo, and they have achieved this goal. The meals run from about $14.00-$20.00 with appetizers anywhere from $3.00-$10.00, which are reasonable for the amount of quality and quantity that is served on Cosmo’s plates.
The menu is completely based off of new blends of flavors that are unexpected, but make perfect sense after hitting your tongue. These are the best types of foods, dishes that never would have been created in the average kitchen.            
Scanning over the menu, the hungry eye picks up words like grilled, garlic, veggies, cracked pepper, Brie, flavorful, and the food follows through on these claims, leaving the eater food-inspired.
            Leaving Cosmo’s and walking back out into the rainy, fall night there is a full and recharged feeling that is present with Cosmo’s customers.
They are already making plans to return to try new and different flavors.            
            

Earth Quarterly

I was reminded of Earth Quarterly, an online and free publication, when Michael Pollan was discussing Whole Earth Catalog. I'm led to believe that whoever was working on Earth Quarterly has since stopped as there are only issues for the Winter Solstice and Vernal Equinox. However, enjoy these two issues. They're beautiful.



Monday, October 29, 2012

Reading Response Five


Michael Pollan tells us in the first part of The Omnivore’s Dilemma that, “’You are what you eat’ is a truism hard to argue with,” (84) and he goes even farther to tell us that we, “are what what you eat eats, too,” (84) and in this case, it’s mainly corn.
The amount of corn that we consume in our diets is absolutely breathtaking and not in a positive way. Pollan depicts an efficient food system in which there is standardization of corn all the way to feed lots where cows end up eating cows and then we go ahead and eat the cows. We have engineered the new, efficient food chain and at what cost? The cows are getting diseases that are traced back into their diets, farmers are going bankrupt raising this cheap corn, and corn is taking over complete areas of land that can be seen from outer space. Absolute corn takeover.
It’s difficult to keep it all straight.
The question that comes to my mind while reading the first section is, how much is the $1 coke at McDonald’s costing me, really. Pollan discusses our obese nation that is hungering for some sort of comfort in this enriched, salty, fattening food, and yet it is this food that is only reminiscent of what we want. How much chicken is actually in the chicken nugget?
Gluttony has been used against us. They’ve supersized our portions to make us feel less gluttonous, and allowed there to be some traces of strange ingredients like lighter fluid in our food. 19% of meals are eaten in the car. Advertising has changed what they are actually selling, we are no longer buying the food, but rather the status, or the packaging, or something else entirely.
Scarier yet, it can all be traced back to corn.
This makes me think about the drought that we had this year and how that will affect this whole system. What if something happened to corn? Looking back on history it seems silly to base a whole system off one crop. Why do not more people notice this, and I guess problematically what would they do even if they did? How much corn is in the cafeteria? My stomach hurts from considering it.
One of my parent’s friends works in cereal at Kellogg’s in Battle Creek, Michigan. He used to bring over new cereals and pop tarts that were being tested. I am reminded of the bowling pin cereal. We all buy into it every time we’re at the grocery store. What makes me even more nervous is how can we ever go back from what we’ve already done, the food system, the natural, biological aspect, and our society. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cosmo's Cucina


            Walking into Cosmo’s Cucina you can see why it would be so crowded.
            Located on the corner of Vine and Locust street off of Westnedge Cosmo’s is definitely a bit off the beaten path of restaurant areas in Kalamazoo and definitely resonates more of a vibe as the neighborhood spot to go. Entering through the lower level of the historic Kalamazoo building and through O’Duffys Pub there were Halloween decorations in the window, paired with lights and people packed in together talking loudly and drinking. I noticed there was no TV in the bar which struck me as different, but at the same time a blessing. This little building seemed to be a haven from the pressures of the outside world. To get to Cosmo’s we had to walk through this bar area, past the bathrooms and upstairs to the restaurant in an even more seemingly different world. Upstairs was an escape from the loud crashings of the bar downstairs.
 The tables were situation comfortably close together with candles on each one. The brick walls give the room a sort of classic, historic feeling without being outdated. The small window into the kitchen at the back was an eye into a fast paced world where delicious smells were wafting out with each dish that left the kitchen.  It is the perfect atmosphere for a cold fall night.
            The wait staff was incredibly accommodating, as it was raining outside last Friday, and we were forty minutes late for our reservation due to an accident in the rainy Michigan weather. For any of you that know I-94, you know how much of a nightmare driving can be. They held the table for us and thanked us for calling to let them know. They sat us immediately next to a stained glass window that overlooked the street below. The room was humming with good vibes. Looking over at the table next to us a party of four was exclaiming about the goat cheese appetizer while gesticulating wildly with their arms, wine glass in hand.
            The appetizers we ordered arrived promptly and began with Zucchini Fritters. The Zucchini was shredded and pan seared with fresh dill, feta, and served with a yogurt and cucumber sauce. The Zucchini had a smoky flavor that could have been confused with being burnt, but the cucumber sauce was brilliant, cold, and refreshing.
A harvest salad was then swept over to our table with fresh greens, walnuts, and soft butternut squash. The menu was infused with squash and other seasonally fresh ingredients. The vinageratte was tasty without being overpowering.
 We ordered the Italian Bread that was warm and crusty and served in a paper bag, tied with thread. The dipping oil was a plate of olive oil, decorated with herbs, and a balsamic oil reduction. It looked so well done that I hated to ruin it with the bread. But after one bite I kept tearing off pieces to swipe across the flavorful oil.
            After a little while of waiting, and conversation our meals arrived after much deliberation over what to order. It was difficult to choose between noodle based dishes, risottos, and braised pork tacos. Looking around, it seemed as if we could not go wrong. Most of the customers in Cosmo’s were hungrily eating whatever was placed in front of them with smiles, usually engaged in conversation with the people at their table.
After asking the waiter for the absolute best thing in the restaurant at this particular time, we decided on plate one that was a special for the evening. It was a plate of scallops in coconut curry broth, pan seared with summer squash, limes, and carrots. The waiter informed us that they were cooked in a cast iron pan that was older than me. They tasted sweet and spicy and were the perfect amount of tough, fleshiness without being too chewy. The blend of fruits and vegetables that the scallops were cooked with added to the delightfully unexpected punch of flavor.
            Plate two was an avocado burger. With a toasted bun, the Kobe beef covered in an avocado, corn blend salsa with Chihuahua cheese. Biting down I literally had to wipe my chin from the juiciness of the meat, a burger at its best. Right next to the burger nestled under a blanket of sea salt and spices were redskin potatoes with just a little crunch to them, they were definitely a filling addition to the meal.
            Plate three was homemade pasta with prosciutto, asiago cheese, and basil. Tangled together with sweet peppers, and halved cherry tomatoes it was a colorful and fall esque dish that didn’t disappoint. Slurping up the noodles with the pepper and cheesy flavors was absolutely delicious and there was plenty to take home for leftover deliciousness.
            The menu at Cosmo’s Cucina is drenched in these different blends of creative flavors with fresh ingredients. Cosmo’s website states that they work under the goal of bringing creative and affordable food to Kalamazoo, and I believe that they have achieved this goal. The meals ran from about $14.00-$20.00 with appetizers anywhere from $3.00-$10.00, which I find reasonable for the amount of quality and quantity that is served on Cosmo’s plates. The menu is completely based off of new blends of flavors that are unexpected, but make perfect sense after hitting your tongue. I believe these are the best types of foods, dishes that you never would have thought to make for yourself. Scanning over the menu, the hungry eye picks up words like grilled, garlic, veggies, cracked pepper, Brie, flavorful, and the food follows through on these claims, leaving the eater food inspired.
            When we walked back out into the rainy, fall night we left feeling full and recharged. Cosmo’s was definitely an experience that blended creativity in a comfortable environment for anyone who enjoys fresh and flavorful meals that they couldn’t just whip up at home without some effort.
I plan on going back to try more tastes off the menu soon.       


       

Friday, October 19, 2012

Expectations For Cosmo's Cucina


            From what little I know about Romance Languages I know that cocinar means to cook in Spanish, so when I see cucina I think similarly. I think it must be Italian, and so when I go to Google and I am correct I assume that a restaurant with the word cucina in its name may have a little Italian flair. Tonight my mom, her fiance and I will be attending Cosmo’s Cucina for dinner, and this is the restaurant that I plan to be reviewing for the class. Cosmo’s is located within the Vine Street Neighborhood in Kalamazoo.
In my opinion, that seems a little bit off the beaten path in terms of restaurants. After living in Kalamazoo all summer most of my dining haunts were located in the Tiffany’s vicinity or the downtown area, or even off of Westnedge (I do love Bagel Beanery). Going to a newer area is a form of tourism itself, especially when Kalamzoo is pretty familiar to me. Their website mentions nothing about Italian like I originally thought, but instead states that they want to bring, “simply creative cooking to Kalamazoo.” In this claim, they’ve really set me up with some interesting expectations. I love creative things. I enjoy new blends of flavors. I wonder exactly what they mean when they say creative? This comment makes me think of our conversations in class over the subject of food as art. I wonder how the food and the atmosphere intersect to foster this so-called creative atmosphere.             From their picture on the website, I see a restaurant with big windows lit up with twinkling lights. I am quite fond of white holiday lights, and I believe that they better any environment. Good choice, Cosmo’s.  I heard about the restaurant from my roommate Tessa, which may also have clouded my judgments about the place. She says that it’s one of her favorites, because of the atmosphere of the restaurant. I will just have to see what she means!
The article, Culinary Tourism, that we read for class discusses new experiences for the sake of the experience itself, which is what this situation truly is. I am going somewhere for the sake of taking it all in and experiencing it. In this way, like the article suggests I am thinking of this restaurant as, “somehow different, new, or exotic.” It is a “tourist” destination.
Upon looking over their menu words catch my eye like Feta, Goat Cheese, Hummus, Spinach, all a few of my favorite words. These flavors make me so hungry. I imagine biting down on warm, cheesy, flavorful food.
  I’m happy to have included my mom and her fiancĂ©, because not only will they want to buy me dinner, but also because she has quite the background in food experience. My mom has spent the majority of her life as a travelling and cooking woman and this background could potentially help me to better understand the food by taking in information from her into my own perspective. I know that I still have a lot to learn about tastes and the world so it’s important to learn from the people who still know more than I do.
As for my mood before I go to review this restaurant? It’s absolutely soaring as I just found out that I’m going to study away in New York City for my Winter Quarter! 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Reading Response Four


         Okay, guys, here’s where I’m at, I love Thai Cuisine on Drake Road. Yes, that is the restaurant with the huge red neon letters. I couldn’t really figure out why they didn’t come up with a little more creative of a name, but I guess if they’re going for accessibility this is it. As the article points out, for people like me who have never been to Thailand, and never been told how authentic the food actually is, I really have no idea what I’m eating. Would we call it the Americanized cousin of Thai? However, it is actually probably a part of the middle ground that is discussed in the article, Culinary Tourism. There are the gold decorations adorning the walls, the elephants, the bamboo everything to make it appear “authentic.”
Now, let’s be real, when I go to Thai Cuisine I am mostly looking to get a plate of veggie, curry, pad Thai that I can eat for the next two days to feed myself. It’s slightly spicy, there’s egg, and I love noodles. I am probably not complaining. However, this is me that we’re talking about. I guess it kind of concerns me if people are attributing this to what a “Thai Experience” actually is. I’m trying to get my head all around this as I write it out, but maybe it’s not coming out very clearly.
            I also love Indian food. There’s this great restaurant in Ann Arbor called Shalimar that probably actually is pretty authentic. My dad is friends with the owner and that’s what he’s been told, something about various regions of India and the way that food differs, I’m not sure. I don’t really have time to go stay in Ann Arbor with my dad any more (I haven’t since I was much younger) so I’ve forgotten some of these things. I was however taught, that when you go to a foreign restaurant not to tempt the chef by ordering things spicier than what they appear on the menu, especially as a white girl in their restaurant.
I once went to a Thai restaurant in Battle Creek with my ex-boyfriend’s family and watched in horror as they ordered the “spicy” option on the menu. By the end of the meal they literally couldn’t talk their lips were so numb. Also, they didn’t believe me when I told them the water wasn’t going to do anything and that they should order a milk based drink…Anyways, I digress.
            I guess what I’m saying is that the whole experiencing food from different cultures is this double-edged sword (is that the phrase?).  I hope when I’m enjoying chicken korma, or naan bread I’m not actually “eating the other as a colonist,” or “taking over another group by appropriating its cultural traditions.” Instead, I hope that this is me learning to experience other flavors and tastes even if they are not completely accurate. Being a Midwestern girl, I can only eat so many potatoes.
            Also, speaking to authentic on a completely random topic, I got to thinking about my mom’s dinner parties as our own kind of foreign cuisine. I was wondering how authentic of a representation those dinner parties actually are of our “culture.” I mean, we’ve had to clean the house, she cooks a meal she normally wouldn’t take the time to do, and she dresses up for the occasion. Yes, this is my mom, but at the same time she’s been altered for the purpose of other people. How authentic can anything actually be if you’re sharing it? I don’t know, just some food for thought. Punny, right? 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Memoir-Final


When I say chicken veins, I think of chicken veins in my mind’s eye in all of their glory. I imagine the sinewy texture of them, like rubber, an opaque white with chicken drumstick batter flecking the surface. I imagine chicken veins in my teeth, in my hair, stuffed into the crevices in a lunchbox, in between my toes. The chicken veins, they loop around my fingers like rings.
When I say chicken drumsticks I imagine cold, fleshy, battered, glowing, white bone. I think of biting down on the flakiness of it. I taste the deli spices on my tongue. I can’t decide if they’re cheap, or delicious, or both. I think of licking the grease off my fingers when no one is watching. I find some pleasure when I slip the bones back inside a lunchbox. I feel the pleasure in being invisible with my bones and my veins to myself.
Growing up, I was, what one would call a nerd. I stood at 5’9 by the time I was in middle school as a regular girl giant. I believed hair gel was essential to every ponytail, I had baby fat despite my growth spurt, and I loved doing history homework. In this description of my middle school self I am ignoring my blue wire rim glasses, and the love poems that were scrawled into all of my notebooks, because I am too embarrassed to incorporate those things. If only I could tell my fifth grade self that Derek Klingaman turned out not to be so cool after all, maybe I could have stopped scrawling his name onto every available inch of paper.
            Now, you have to take into consideration how middle school girls are by definition. They are mean, and it is a cruel, wild world. In the cafeteria I was afraid to throw out my trash after lunch due to the sheer fact that I would have to walk in front of the entire cafeteria to do so.
My lunch was always packed by my mother in a blue insulated lunch box. All of my friends got to use paper bags. My mom told me that it was important to not be wasteful. I told my mom it was important to survive middle school so that you could move on with the rest of your life.
Often in this blue lunchbox, my lunch would be comprised of chicken drumsticks from Felpausch, the local grocery store. While my mom thought this was a special kind of lunchtime treat, I found it horrifying. Yes, you guessed correctly, the chicken veins. These veins infiltrated the very existence of these chicken drumsticks. They laced through the batter. They wound around the bone. In my fear of throwing out food in the cafeteria, these chicken veins found their post lunch home within the insulation of the lunch box.
After school it was my duty as a young girl to attend dance class. Ballet, Jazz and Tap were the best ways for all of us to spend Monday afternoons together. Our mothers decided this. This was before I actually loved dance. This was when dance leotards were literally the worst thing ever invented. I went to dance with the same group of girls that I grew up with, and they were the same group of girls that tortured the hell out of me on a regular basis. I never could understand why our parents insisted that we were friends.
While I took tap class the rest of the girls got to sit on the wooden bench in the lobby that was inside of the girls’ dressing room. Their mothers didn’t make them take tap like mine did. My mom told me it’s important to try everything. I told my mom that it’s important to survive dance class so you can move on with the rest of your life.
On that fated day I had chicken drumsticks for lunch along with their veiny counterparts. Those girls had figured out that I hid the veins in baggies in the corner; they had found my next weakness.
I left the resin filled dance studio to rejoin my “friends,” untie my tap shoes, brush my coarse pony tail out, put on my boots to go home. As soon as I pulled the brush through my hair and began to slide on my boots the group of girls erupted into laughter.
I remember my face getting flushed. I remember self-consciously going over everything I had just done to find an error in my actions. I remember the constricting of my throat, the rising heat through my body.
            Lucy called, “Chicken veins,” and they all laughed as if chicken veins in their stringed glory were the worst possible fate for any food, or in my case, girl. I remember the first tear that slid out, like hot embarrassment, like the way that chicken must have felt in the slaughterhouse.
The girls filed out, their soft ponytails bobbing. I pulled chicken veins out of the bristles of the hairbrush, out of the soft corners of my lined boots. I sat there with the chicken veins on my lap. I was able to fully cry by then, alone in the girls’ dressing room.
            Miss Tricia heard me. She was my dance teacher then, and the epitome of everything any of us wanted to grow up to be. She was sweet, patient, and graceful. She was like the light at the end of the tunnel for us in our awkward changing bodies. She saw the chicken veins, she saw my tears, and in a fit of anger that I had never seen Miss Tricia display she whispered between tight lips, “They’re just jealous Kate, they’re just jealous.”
            I threw away the chicken veins on my way out the door. They made a satisfying swish noise as I dropped them into the tin trashcan. I walked out into the snow, I got into my mom’s mini van, I went home. 
            My mom looked at me as I strayed in the hallway near the kitchen. In the way she tilted her head she let me know that she knew I wasn’t trying to guess what she had made for dinner. She opened her mouth and then closed it. I walked upstairs to peel the layer of dance leotard off my body before she could say anything else.
I like to think that she would have told me that being different was in my best interest. I like to think that I would have believed her, then.
I may have grown up, but the veiny taste of chicken drumsticks has not escaped me. Those veins are tough, they are sinewy, they are what carries the life through our bodies. This rare, blood mixture of who and what we are that highlights our differences, yet at the same time is our common thread.
I remember once sitting on the floor of the dance studio examining the veins in my feet while I pointed my toes. I now like to think of the veins in my changing awkward bodies while I was still a child dancing. I like to think that it was supposed to happen, like that. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Memoir-Rough Draft


When I say chicken veins, I want you to see chicken veins in your mind’s eye in all of their glory. I want you to imagine the sinewy texture of them, like rubber, an opaque white with chicken drumstick batter flecking the surface. I want you to imagine chicken veins in your teeth, in your hair, stuffed into the crevices in a lunchbox, in between your toes. I want chicken veins to loop around your fingers like rings.
When I say chicken drumsticks I want you to imagine cold, fleshy, battered glowing white bone. I want you to bite down on the flakiness of it. I want you to taste the deli spices on your tongue. You can’t decide if they’re cheap, or delicious, or both. I want you to lick the grease off your fingers when no one is watching. I want you to find some pleasure when you slip the bones back inside a lunchbox. I want you to feel the pleasure in being invisible with your bones and your veins to yourself.
Growing up, I was, what one would call a nerd. I stood at 5’9 by the time I was in middle school as a regular girl giant. I believed hair gel was essential to every ponytail, I had baby fat despite my growth spurt, and I loved doing history homework. In this description of my middle school self we are ignoring my blue wire rim glasses, and the love poems that were scrawled into all of my notebooks, because I am too embarrassed to incorporate those things. If only I could tell my fifth grade self that Derek Klingaman turned out not to be so cool after all maybe I could have stopped scrawling his name onto every available inch of paper.
            Now, you have to take into consideration how middle school girls are by definition. They are mean, and it is a cruel, wild world. In the cafeteria I was afraid to throw out my trash after lunch due to the sheer fact that I would have to walk in front of the entire cafeteria to do so.
My lunch was always packed by my mother in a blue insulated lunch box. All of my friends got to use paper bags. My mom told me that it was important to not be wasteful. I told my mom it was important to survive middle school so that you could move on with the rest of your life.
Often in this blue lunchbox, my lunch would be comprised of chicken drumsticks from Felpausch. While my mom thought this was a special kind of lunchtime treat, I found it horrifying. Yes, you guessed correctly, the chicken veins. These veins infiltrated the very existence of these chicken drumsticks. They laced through the batter. They wound around the bone. In my fear of throwing out food in the cafeteria, these chicken veins found their post lunch home within the insulation of the lunch box.
Now shifting gears with me, after school it was my duty as a young girl to attend dance class. Ballet, Jazz and Tap were the best ways for all of us to spend Monday afternoons together. Our mothers decided this. This was before I actually loved dance. This was when dance leotards were literally the worst thing ever invented. I went to dance with the same group of girls that I grew up with, and they were the same group of girls that tortured the hell out of me on a regular basis. I never could understand why our parents insisted that we were friends.
While I took tap class the rest of the girls got to sit on the wooden bench in the lobby that was inside of the girls’ dressing room. Their mothers didn’t make them take tap like mine did. My mom had told me it’s important to try everything. I told my mom that it’s important to survive dance class so you can move on with the rest of your life.
On this fated day I had chicken drumsticks for lunch along with their veiny counterparts. Those girls had figured out that I hid the veins in baggies in the corner; they had found my next weakness.
I left the resin filled dance studio to rejoin my friends, untie my tap shoes, brush my coarse pony tail out, put on my boots to go home. As soon as I pulled the brush through my hair and began to slide on my boots the group of girls erupted into laughter.
I remember my face getting flushed. I remember self-consciously going over everything I had just done to find an error in my actions. I remember the constricting of my throat, the rising heat through my body.
            Lucy called, “Chicken veins,” and they all laughed as if chicken veins in their stringed glory are the worst possible fate for any food, or in my case, girl. I remember the first tear that slid out, like hot embarrassment, like the way that chicken must have felt in the slaughterhouse. The girls filed out, their soft ponytails bobbing. I pulled chicken veins out of the bristles of the hairbrush, out of the soft corners of my lined boots. I sat there with the chicken veins on my lap. I was able to fully cry by then, alone in the girls’ dressing room.
            Miss Tricia heard me. She was my dance teacher then, and the epitome of everything any of us wanted to grow up to be. She was sweet, patient, and graceful. She was like the light at the end of the tunnel for us in our awkward changing bodies. She saw the chicken veins, she saw my tears, and in a fit of anger that I had never seen Miss Tricia display she whispered between tight lips, “They’re just jealous Kate, they’re just jealous.”
            I threw away the chicken veins on my way out the door. They made a satisfying swish noise as I dropped them into the tin trashcan. I walked out into the snow, I got into my mom’s mini van, I went home. 
I may have grown up, but the veiny taste of chicken drumsticks has not escaped me. They are tough, they are sinewy, they are what carries the life through our bodies, our changing awkward bodies while we are dancing. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Designer Desserts

As I was reading one of my favorite blogs, I came across this little article. It's talking about Laduree using Lanvin and creating pink bubblegum macaroons!
I completely thought of Kelsey and her little designer desserts. Look how pretty they are!


Friday, September 28, 2012

Miss Representation




Hey Guys,
Here's a photo I saw on Miss Representation's facebook. It reminded me of our discussion in class with Robyn Lawley and Ralph Lauren.
I posted a link to the trailer for the documentary.
(They actually show an old Ralph Lauren photo that's been intensely photo shopped)
It summarizes the main points in about eight minutes.
You should check it out!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Upon Finishing A Cook's Tour


I felt a little strange. The second half of the book didn’t fill me with the urge to travel so much as it made me a little confused. I think Tony Bourdain lost me around Tokyo, or maybe it was England when he begins elaborating on the life of a chef. I had been enthused at first by his bad attitude, his smoking, the drinking and the danger, and in the second half I was more critical of it. How much of his, “nothing to lose” attitude was real or constructed? He was always careful to mention what could go wrong in everr situation. When I watched a few clips of the show on YouTube, I picked Cambodia and Russia, the two that fascinated me most. I don’t think it’s the food so much as the place though. As Bourdain explains though I think that they are intertwined enough.
In the show you can see his mannerisms, as Kelsey Baak mentioned in class, and see how they apply within the book. He is on the little boat in Cambodia cracking jokes about Gilligan’s island while the cameraman shoots up close scary men that invade their boat. I like being able to see this, but I enjoy the book more, because I feel like his adventurous self is balanced out with honesty, if only a little.
It is however interesting to read the book, and then go watch clips of it. I enjoyed seeing what matched up in my head and what didn’t. The tiny fried birds in Cambodia looked exactly like they did in the TV show. I didn’t know whether to be disturbed that I could imagine the tiny crunch of bird bones, or pleased with my imagination.
            But, back to my original point. By the end of the story I had enough of Bourdain’s bad attitude, his hating on vegetarians, his constant notation of ‘whores’ and ‘beautiful women’ throughout the narrative. What I had trouble reconciling with was, isn’t Bourdain as privileged as these vegetarians that eat bland vegetables and sit in their house that he spend a whole chapter complaining about? After all, just because he has seen the plight of the world doesn’t make him any better if he’s just seen it for his benefit.
I am reminded when he pays the boy that has driven him around all night $2 extra, and yet he mocks people that sit in their house and send a few dollars to help the reconstruction of the rain forest. Is this not similar?
            His constant attention to women also leaves me a little confused. I begin thinking things like, “where is Nancy,” and, “why did she not come with him.” Throughout the story she is only mentioned when he needs to call her to remind her of something, at least for the most part. There are exceptions, such as the beginning and the end of the book where he seems genuine about his wife, and to her. Because of this, I end up being conflicted.
            In the end though, there is still something in me that wants to eat a cobra’s heart, even though I am absolutely terrified of snakes.