The Importance of Food and Drink

It is 11:23 on a Thursday morning and a large plate of pumpkin spice chocolate chip oatmeal cookies are basking in the sunlight that has been strolling through my open kitchen window. I have a bushel of apples waiting to be sliced and diced for some apple cider pies, and warm baguettes waiting to be slathered with honey goat cheese and pumpkin butter. There are pumpkins to be carved and seeds to be roasted and toasted with cinnamon, salt, and oregano. It is a morning perfect for getting lost in the world of literature, for feeling the fall breeze dance into the room and help stir my pen.

This is the season that begins months of a holiday love affair with food and drink. Take a look at any writer: I am sure most all will be able to sit and describe for hours their favorite food and drinks. For anyone wanting to dive into some of the favorite dishes and drinks the top literary authors and poets have mentioned in letters, books, or interviews, you have to check out the blog Paper and Salt. With cherished recipes including Agatha Christie’s Fig and Orange Scones with Devonshire Cream, Robert Penn Warren’s favorite cocktail recipe, and even Wallace Stevens’ Coconut Caramel Graham Cookies, the blog won’t let you down. Let’s zoom in on Stevens for a minute, whose “humdrum evening routine consisted of eating a cookie while reading the paper.” To all of us with a sweet tooth, Stevens is a dear kindred spirit. Nicole from Paper and Salt writes:

On his doctor’s orders, Stevens repeatedly tried to cut his dessert intake, but when a friend sent him a bottle of coconut syrup that reminded him of his beloved caramels, it all went out the window. “God help me, I am a miserable sinner,” he wrote, “and love being so.”

I am sure there are many jokes out there about “drink” being the true “ink” in a writer’s pen, but it is necessary to stop and reflect on various drinks for a minute. For writers in general—but poets especially—there is nothing more stimulating than good conversation accompanied by wine paired with the right cheese. See The Wine and Cheese Pairing Guide at Winemonger for suggestions.

And last but not least, what about those of you who love actually entering into the literary world and experiencing their own food and drink? For those of you who want a nice warm butterbeer on a cool fall evening without having to migrate to Orlando for the world of Harry Potter? I recommend including Guinness in your recipe, because what’s the magic in making butterbeer if you don’t tweak it to your own taste? Add a little Buttescotch Schnapps and research your own recipe! Seriously. Make your own magic, folks. (Except for the under-21s, only cream soda and butterscotch syrup for you!)

Or perhaps you want a fresh drink, something for a picnic, don’t forget to look up Anne (with an E)’s recipe for Raspberry Cordial. If you’re feeling extra silly, you can even re-enact dear Diana’s encounter with the “Raspberry Cordial.” Or just drink some currant wine yourself.

So writers, readers, lovers of food and drink: dive into the culinary world. The world of scents and flavors. Savor the spices, the aromas, the textures. Nerd out with your favorite literary recipes. Research what your favorite authors liked to eat and drink. Don’t forget to check out the Paper and Salt blog, and plunge into the best part of writing: eating and drinking.

Everyone Is Gay…(But Not Really)

Despite visible figures such as Ellen Degeneres, Lady GaGa and shows like Glee, questioning lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered youth (LGBT) still have a difficult time finding people or resources to help answer their questions. However, two young women, Dannielle Owens-Reid and Kristin Russo, have created a blog called everyoneisgay.com where anyone can submit questions anonymously and receive an unbiased, educated, humorous (and sometimes very vulgar) response. Not only does the website appeal to questioning youth, but parents of people in the LGBT community and even straight couples find support within the website because the blog has succeeded by using humorous rhetoric to help bring comfort to web users as well as help the general population understand the issues that are occurring in the LGBT community.

Sigmund Freud believed that the expression of humor releases “the tensions of repressing the impulse to be aggressive.”  Danielle and Kristin channeled this concept when they responded to a poster who said “I hat gay people. Sorry.” Kristin and Dannielle stood their ground and did not explode towards this person but simply responded with “They make hats out of gay people?!” This reveals a lot about their character. By appearing to not even understand the insult, the everyoneisgay.com team seems to be the innocent ones, reiterating the fact that they are being attacked while saying very few words. Kristin Russo states in a video interview with Space Station Media that everyoneisgay.com wants to bring the community together- “not just the gay community, not just the trans community, and not just the queer community, but the entire community,” letting everyone know that we are no different and that we all struggle. This identification the two women make with their audience is crucial to making the blog successful and attempting to unite different communities. Finding a common ground or an understanding of each other allows the persuasive argument to move forward. Their response to the anti gay post was a very smart and subtle way of doing exactly this. David Paletz claims that viewing “something humorously is generally to cease to regard it as an enemy… to laugh at someone in political humor is to step toward community with him.” Instead of choosing to argue back with the attacker, Dannielle welcomed the attack and turned it into a positive example for readers.

Another aspect of the site that comforts visitors is the raw honesty, openness, and the fact that the women poke fun at themselves. On Saturday postings they write about a topic of their choice. Danielle opened one post up with “I hate to be a total stereotype, but like, I wanna talk about our cats again… so I will.” Poking fun and admitting that she is the stereotypical lesbian cat lover is an excellent and hilarious way of pointing out her own weakness and making herself more personable, letting the readers know that she does not claim to be all-knowing and powerful. This appeals to younger readers because the blog is written by two youthful women instead of parental- like figures.

The use of silly, slang sentences like “you gotta put some communicaysh in your relaysh” is a way of lessoning tensions and saying “you need to incorporate communication in your relationship”  and encourages young readers to follow their advice without feeling preached to. If one finds themselves confused by the vocabulary the site provides a “Glossary of Things Dannielle Says.” Many of the words are unique to everyoneisgay.com and are not seen anywhere else. When referring to the male anatomy, Dannielle addresses it as a “peeneewoo.” This draws visitors back because the humorous vocabulary and syntax cannot be found anywhere else.

The unique and odd humorous blog entries by Kristin and Dannielle are succeeding in their goal of uniting their audience of different sexual orientations and helping them reconsider the legitimacy of the sexually orientated stereotypes. The success is apparent by the attention the site has received from a wide variety of people who send in questions every day. The humor breaks down barriers of hostility and doubt of the drastically different heterosexual and homosexual communities to show the struggles that each of them shares.