Horror, and what's food got to do with it
(+ food and travel notes on Berlin)
“The mind wants to live forever, or learn a very good reason why not. The mind wants the world to return its love, or its awareness; the mind wants to know all the world, and all eternity, and God. The mind’s sidekick, however, will settle for two eggs over easy. The dear, stupid body is as easily satisfied as a spaniel. And, incredibly, the simple spaniel can lure the brawling mind to its dish.”
-Annie Dillard in Total Eclipse
I recently read this quote in a very good little ‘zine titled Famous for My Dinner Parties, and in addition to being jealous that I didn’t think of that title myself, I got to thinking Very Much about why to bother with this little adventure of ours, about fussing over food, when the world is on fire, and people are suffering everywhere.
The answer, for me, is that food is love. The only reason that food should matter at all– and it does matter– is its capacity to transfer love.
You may have had the good fortune as I did, to have stumbled on an old interview of James Baldwin during my daily doom scroll, wherein he says, in only the insistent tone that Baldwin can: “The world is held together, it really is held together by the love and the passion of a very few people.” His point being that if we don’t choose love, and passion, then the alternative is despair.
So at BIPOC Foodways Alliance, we are choosing not to despair, as difficult as that can be at any given moment just now.
While I love this Annie Dillard quote, I also disagree with it, because two eggs over easy, if made with the right spirit, could in fact be all the world, even god in that moment.
Don’t believe me?
This is the pursuit we’re after at BIPOC Foodways Alliance. Finding the world within the dish, the seemingly simple but not at all culinary gesture. The eggs.
I have never been interested in writing about food. Not really. It might be why I haven’t been all that successful as a food writer. The large majority of people who read about food do so because they want to know where to go eat, and whether it will be worth it. That’s it. That’s what they want to know, and that’s absolutely great. It’s a completely worthwhile endeavor to want to know whether leaving the house and spending one hundred dollars on dinner is a good idea or not.
My problem is I’ve always wanted to know what drives the cooker of that dinner. Why do they leave the house? And not because they always dreamed of opening a restaurant. I could care less about that, because I know enough about restaurants to know that owning one is the very adverse of a dream. And when you can get someone to tell you that– why they do what they do– you will quickly realize that they do it because of love. And what is god if not love? You don’t have to be any smarter than a spaniel to know this.
We are coming up on our unofficial one year anniversary of BIPOC Foodways Alliance & BIPOC Foodways Alliance Table, our nonprofit organization that seeks to provide a platform for under-told food stories (about the pursuit and offering of love) through food; while simultaneously breaking down barriers between cultural communities.
Next week, the story of Ryan Stopera & his mom Lichun, and how their family practice of Chinese dumplings expands their chosen family in the face of tragedy. (Also, the albums Sean recently bought in Paris and why!)
Sean and I have just returned from Berlin, Paris, and the Champagne region of France, so here’s some travel notes and things to think about the food, and even if you never go to Berlin and eat the food (but I hope you do!) there are things worth thinking about: