A sort of dirty review of Kingsolver

I'm reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I utterly engrossed in this book and totally fascinated with all the information. Warning: there may come a good number of posts about this book. And, truthfully, not all of this is new information. It's just that she's briliant at how she articulates some of this stuff and how she draws connections between themes that are highly relevant to this era.

On top of all that excitement, it seems that her growing season is similar to where my CSA is located so I'm getting to read her own enjoyment in growing many of the same vegetables. I'm glad I bought this book as I do intend to read it again next year during the local CSA season. There are great suggestions for cooking up the vegetables along with wonderful meditations about how to develop a sense of eating whatever is in season.

I've gotten ahead of myself - is that the right phrase? - who knows, I'm just so excited about all the above mentioned things that I'm just zipping through this, not thinking about structure or flow. ANYWAY, this book is a memoir about her family moving to a small farm in Virginia (I think. Somewhere in the Appalachians, that I know for sure) and more specifically, a year of growing, living and eating off the land.

My mind went into overload when she started talking about promiscuity being the basis for mainstream America's relationship with food. Interesting how she states that we encourage young people to wait a while before having sex, yet do not restrain ourselves from eating vegetables out of season, no matter how tasteless they may be, not thinking at all about the cost of transporting said vegetables from far-flung tropical locales (and thus maintaining our dependence on foreign oil supplies) - all this just to satisfy our craving for everything now. She says "We're raising our children on the definition of promiscuity if we feed them a casual, indiscriminate mingling of foods from every season plucked from the supermarket, ignoring how our sustenance is cheapened by wholesale desires" (31).

It seems to me that food and sensuality are intimately tied together. Wow! Look at all them puns in one sentence. Yes, I meant them all - the intimacy, the kinky ties, and all. This book is definitely full of fun puns and hot references. For example, her description of flowering plants gets quite sensual when she writes "since they can't engage in hot pursuit, they lure a third party, such as bees, into the sexual act..." (63).

Again, ANYWAY, now I turn my easily distractible mind to asparagus. It seems that growing a sustainable and successful crop of asparagus is somewhat like growing a good relationship. Asparagus takes years, at least three or four, until there is an edible harvest. And a "well-managed asparagus bed can keep producing for twenty to thirty years" (28). It is possible to abuse an asparagus bed and one can do this by prematurely whacking off any new shoots before the three years are up. To do so is to "make the plant sink into vegetable despair and die" (28). If one is patient then there is the reward of (and I love this phrase!) "an edible incarnation of the spring equinox" (29).



Did you know that asparagus were once considered an aphrodisiac? Or that the church banned it from nunneries? I think this has more to do with the shape of the asparagus stalk and the voluptuous nature of the plant rather than any bodily effects. This seems clear to me in this botanical drawing of asparagus.



And especially so in this image of steamed asparagus, all hot and slick with oil, ready to put in the mouth (sorry! I couldn't help myself!).



I'm having a great time these days thinking about food. I'm understanding the importance of my food co-op more and more as each day passes. Sadly, I had always thought of it as overpriced and overly concerned with gourmet tastes and appetites. I would only buy things there that I couldn't buy at the regular supermarket. But, now I'm making smarter decisions that help me fit it all into our limited budget, buying from the bulk bins, for example, or picking up three brown eggs and smaller portions of food stuffs. Also, buying in season is much cheaper, even at the regular supermarkets.

I hope you'll check this book out. It certainly was a wonderful surprise for me!

Comments

  1. I really enjoyed that book too & learned a lot. We are trying so hard to eat seasonally & locally but can't seem to give up those bananas

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  2. I was thinking of you when I read the chapter on making cheese! I agree about the bananas, but for me it's broccoli. I guess that's probaby not coming as far as the bananas. This book really has me looking at everything that is available to me at the store. Plantains at the co-op? Where did they come from?

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