Chatter and book club: Cramming for Babette’s Feast, pondering Mary Kay, fat, ‘Girls,’ ‘Bodies’

Tomorrow night, we’ll be meeting at Elaine’s Pork and Pie, 2113 Manor Road next to Eastside Cafe, at 7 p.m. to talk about Babette’s Feast. I rented the movie from Vulcan Video recently, but member Dee Kelleher just posted a digital version of the short story in our Facebook group. The book club is open to anyone, and I’m looking forward to catching up with some of you there!

ourbodiesLast week, I went to the Foodways Texas Symposium, which this year had the theme “Our Barbecue, Ourselves.” I couldn’t help but remind folks that this is a play off of “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” the groundbreaking book about women’s health and sexuality. I’m bummed that Southern Foodways Alliance director John T. Edge has deleted his tweet from the conference that said that the taste of a well-mopped pig could trump coitus. I don’t know that I necessarily agree, but it illustrated the thought-provoking connection between sex, meat, intimacy, relationships and pleasure.

Having come full circle in the war against fat — I clearly remember eating fat-free cheese and skim milk during my high school and early college years in a failed effort to shed pounds — I really enjoyed this WSJ story in praise of eating fatty foods. From Ron Rosenbaum:

Fear of fat has become a national sickness, an all-American eating disorder: Call it fatnorexia. Where is Uncle Toby from Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” lamenting that, under the oncoming reign of Puritan strictures, “there shall be no cakes and ale”?

Something deeper than concern for nutrition and cholesterol is going on here. You don’t have to be a Freudian (I’m not) to see in the antifat crusade a cowering fear of sexuality. The evil of oral pleasure as Satan’s tool of seduction, dating back to Eve, is deeply embedded in American culture. Recall Cotton Mather’s denunciation of the hell-bound wickedness of the pleasures of the flesh and his call for self-mortification (anticipating today’s egg-white omelets).

n+1 has figured out The Atlantic formula for publishing seemingly feminist articles that only exist to challenge our notion of what it means to be one in often ridiculous ways. “These are articles intended to terrorize unmarried women, otherwise known as educated straight women in their twenties and thirties, otherwise known as a valuable market, if not for reliable lovers then at least for advertisers.”

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Mary Kay doesn’t peddle food wares a la Pampered Chef, but this Harper’s article from last summer (yay for used magazines from Half Price books!) takes a fascinating look inside what author Virginia Sole-Smith calls the pink pyramid scheme. You have to be a subscriber to read the full article online, but you’ll find a thorough recap on the Pink Truth, a website dedicated to exposing sharing information about “abusive pyramid schemes and predatory multi-level marketing companies like Mary Kay.”


I’m still figuring out exactly what I think about “Girls,” but articles like this one from the New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum are certainly help inform my opinion.

Some housekeeping notes: Ms. Magazine was kind enough to include the Feminist Kitchen in a Q&A roundup with other food and feminism bloggers, and you’ll notice a new design on the website, a spruced-up blog roll on the right and a new 1000 Words series to facilitate random image-driven posts.

As always, thanks for reading!

3 responses to “Chatter and book club: Cramming for Babette’s Feast, pondering Mary Kay, fat, ‘Girls,’ ‘Bodies’

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