Evan Hanczor

TOC December 2018: Culliton! Gilbert! Marquardt!

Evan Hanczor
TOC December 2018: Culliton! Gilbert! Marquardt!

Our December reading was full of food of memory, trauma, and class. We dove deep into a discussion about food and class assumptions, valuations, and the struggle between honoring your personal history and nostalgia while also committing to your present day values and beliefs (the great mortadella-baloney debate of 2018, some say). That spun off an interesting parallel discussion of class and valuation in literature, specifically in genre valuation and the idea of “good writing” (mirroring the complicated debate over what makes food “good food”). So much to unpack, and also so much goodness to eat. Check out the passages, dishes, and descriptions below for a visual taste of the night!

FIRST COURSE - Jaclyn Gilbert, LATE AIR

Blueberry pancakes (bleeding blue) with a side of syrup served on a sharing place without silverware - visually soaked comfort food in the context of discomfort.

Blueberry pancakes (bleeding blue) with a side of syrup served on a sharing place without silverware - visually soaked comfort food in the context of discomfort.

“On the way home, Murray kept seeing the syrup-drenched pancakes—blueberries bleeding blue.”

--Jaclyn Gilbert, Late Air, Little A 2018


SECOND COURSE - Tanya Marquardt, STRAY

Mortadella (as bologna) and sliced (organic) american cheese on wonderbread cut into triangles…an attempt to re-create the feeling of a memory within the strictures of one’s present.

Mortadella (as bologna) and sliced (organic) american cheese on wonderbread cut into triangles…an attempt to re-create the feeling of a memory within the strictures of one’s present.

“Mom had a system where she laid out six pieces of white bread on the counter, placed bologna and cheese slices on top of the bread, and then put the sandwiches together before stuffing chocolate pudding, a plastic spoon, and carrots into brown paper bags. She kept the brown paper bags in the cupboard near the stove, along with her 'no more Jack' pills.”

--Tanya Marquardt, Stray: Memoir of a Runaway, Little A 2018


THIRD COURSE - Emily Culliton, THE MISFORTUNE OF MARION PALM

Raw chocolate chip cookie dough served in metal mixing bowls - a scoop of nostalgia with a backsplash of disgust.

Raw chocolate chip cookie dough served in metal mixing bowls - a scoop of nostalgia with a backsplash of disgust.

“She eats a spoonful of cookie dough. She eats another. She can taste the butter, and this is nauseating, so she concentrates on the chocolate chips as they break between her teeth.”

--Emily Culliton, The Misfortune of Marion Palm, Knopf 2017