On Soup/in Night by Elie Wiesel

The oft-repeated adage is “We are what we eat”. There’s more to it than that. Actually, we often eat what we are, or we eat what we’re experiencing. Here’s a soup that won’t be forgotten . . .

“Then came the march past the victims. The two men were no longer alive. Their tongues were hanging out,
swollen and bluish. But the third rope was still moving: the child, too light, was still breathing…
And so he remained for more than half an hour, lingering between life and death, writhing before our eyes.
And we were forced to look at him at close range. He was still alive when I passed him. His tongue was still
red, his eyes not yet extinguished.

Behind me, I heard the same man asking:
“For God’s sake, where is God?”
And from within me, I heard a voice answer:
“Where He is? This is where–hanging here from this gallows…”

That night, the soup tasted of corpses.”

Elie Wiesel – Night

Tofu-Kozo in Japanese Literature

Katsukawa_Shuntei_Tofu-kozoYou might want to look behind you if you happen to be walking alone on a dark rainy night – the Tofu-Kozo might be right behind you, waiting to offer you his special tofu. Nobody really knows where he came from, but he seems to be everywhere, and he’s been around for a very long time.

In literature from the Showa and Heisei eras and beyond, it is frequently written that they would appear on rainy nights, and recommend the relish of tōfu to people passing by, but halfway into eating it a mold would grow

[ . . .] In the original kusazōshi, they did not possess any special powers, and they often appear as servants that bring tōfu and sake here and there in the town,[4] and it is also changed in senryū such poems like “tōfu-kozō are servant monsters (豆腐小僧ハ化ものゝ小間使ひ

Just to be safe, you’d better read up about Tofu-Kozo. It’s starting to rain . . .the evening approaches . . . what’s that behind you?!

The Second Bakery Attack by Haruki Murakami

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Murikami’s short story dances with deep hungers as it circles nonchalantly around a normal, everyday bakery.

I’m still not sure I made the right choice when I told my wife about the bakery attack. But then, it might not have been a question of right and wrong. Which is to say that wrong choices can produce right results, and vice versa. I myself have adopted the position that, in fact, we never choose anything at all. Things happen. Or not.

If you look at it this way, it just so happens that I told my wife about the bakery attack. I hadn’t been planning to bring it up–I had forgotten all about it–but it wasn’t one of those now-that-you-mention-it kind of things, either.

What reminded me of the bakery attack was an unbearable hunger. It hit just before two o’clock in the morning. We had eaten a light supper at six, crawled into bed at nine-thirty, and gone to sleep. For some reason, we woke up at exactly the same moment. A few minutes later, the pangs struck with the force of the tornado in The Wizard of Oz. These were tremendous, overpowering hunger pangs.

Our refrigerator contained not a single item that could be technically categorized as food. We had a bottle of French dressing, six cans of beer, two shriveled onions, a stick of butter, and a box of refrigerator deodorizer. With only two weeks of married life behind us, we had yet to establish a precise conjugal understanding with regard to the rules of dietary behavior. Let alone anything else.

 

Continue reading this story here at MIT.edu.

The Garlic War by Annie Proulx

Édouard_Manet_-_Nature_morte_au_cabas_et_à_l'ail,“It is not really an exaggeration to say that peace and happiness begin, geographically, where garlic is used in cooking.” This is Marcel Boulestin’s claim. We’ll see about that – in this early story by Pulitzer-Prize winning author Annie Proulx.

Sometime back in the early ’30s my uncle Hubert finished his internship at one of the smaller hospitals in Poughkeepsie, New York, took a pretty young wife, Sophia, and set up practice in his mother-in-law’s rambling house on Garvin Street. His mother-in-law, whom everybody called Auntie Bella, was a formidable woman. She was, in the first place, large—not merely plump, not fat only, but tall, large-boned, and heavy-fleshed. She had a booming bass voice with which she sounded all her opinions to anyone who would listen. If no one would, she told her marvelous tales of the evil eye and of the time her cousin Giuseppe was robbed by bandits to the four cats who were constantly stalking in and out of the kitchen. The cats were swollen with pride and with tasty tidbits that Auntie Bella was always feeding them—a little dab of chicken cooked in a red sauce, for instance. “Here, cat … good, no?” And the cat would purr, gobble down the last shred, and stare greedily into the empty dish.

Continue reading ‘The Garlic War’ in Gourmet Magazine, 1964.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe – The Feast of the New Yam

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Here’s a story with food in it – it’s an excerpt from a novel. Well-known anthologies on foodwriting have been published which include chapters excerpted from novels. The author probably did not originally sit down to purposefully write about ‘food’. Nevertheless, food plays a big part in these scenes taking place within larger themes. The great Chinua Achebe, and yams . . .

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to continue reading, go to Things Fall Apart on google books, Chapter Five.