Friday, August 27, 2021

Miscreant and mellifluous

I have some of those magnetic poetry words on the file sorter screwed to my wall. They have been there such a long time, I no longer recall why I pulled these specific words out of box. I love mellifluous words, odd words, obscure words, clever words. I've spent so much of the last year in my domicile, at this desk, worried that my words are banal, hoping they're salient or perhaps droll.

Why did I not notice until this morning that the word Kafkaesque is hovering just over the top of my monitor? Perhaps because in the midst of this Kafkaesque time I have spent too much time looking at the screen and not enough time staring at the walls. Or maybe it's because the kerning is so poor on this rendition, that my eye refuses to stay on it for any length of time.

As I move into the real writing I need to do this morning I'm hoping not to be opaque, or obscure, or obtuse. Just productive.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Squid, skunks and Jesuits

I'm working on an essay for Nature Chemistry about weird pandemic cooking, prompted by my experiments with ikasumi (squid ink). The Boy and I modified my dad's recipe for seeded rolls to bake charcoal black versions. They looked burned, are black through and through and taste...just fine. 

And shades of the Food Babe, who was all about the beaver butt that definitely isn't in your vanilla ice cream. Squid ink (which doesn't come from squids, but from their relatives the cuttlefish) is basically melanin rich snot that the cuttlefish squirts out its behind. 

It's richly ironic that the chef Jamie Oliver went on Colbert and said there's beaver butt excretions (i.e. castoreum) in vanilla ice cream (again there's not) but who has recipes for black ink pasta on his web site. Are you really going to eat something with squid snot in it?  Castoreum has always been expensive and rare -  in Roman times you had to be careful not to buy counterfeit castoreum. 

Fun fact of the day, one of the smellier components of skunk spray is an approved food flavoring in both the US and the EU. Vile at high concentrations, at low concentrations it tastes and smells of onion and garlic. 

Also - a 17th century Jesuit wrote home after an encounter with a couple of skunks that he thought he knew what Catherine of Siena's stench of sin might smell like.