Two good articles & two good recipes
Things got agressive in my kitchen tonight between 9-12. Out of it, however, came two recipes I highly suggest, paired with two outdated articles you should totally read while eating.
Recipe 1: Fried egg sandwich with turkey bacon & goat cheese (amended from “Fried egg sandwich with bacon and bleu cheese” via smitten kitchen)
We used white wine vinaigrette. Don’t do that. Use red. We also used arugula because TJ’s doesn’t have frisee, but that was ultimately a good decision. Just beware of the yolk. My couch now has what visitors will consider a faint unidentified stain. It’s easier to justify than the one I wore to school in ninth grade when my mother made me eat an egg sandwich in the car. Lethal yolk exploded onto the crotch of my light pink shorts, spent the rest of the day scraping it off in the bathroom between classes. I consider that an unidentified stain on my social life.
Article 1: Who Stole the Mona Lisa? by Simon Kupor for The Financial Times
This piece is about a maddeningly simple art heist from 100 years ago that happened to propel the Mona Lisa’s fame. It was stolen by a small Italian man who had it hidden under his bed. He claimed to have fallen in love with her, and his justification for stealing her was, “It seems to belong in Italy since its painter was an Italian.” Europeans have such wonky ideas of property rights. I don’t see anyone trying to steal Mount Rushmore, and its sculptor was fucking Danish (on a related note, he was the spawn of polygamists, quite interesting, read here). Once it was gone, public fascination erupted: people lined up to visit the empty space where it had hung, and her face was commodified for the first time & sold to consumers on lighters and postcards. One of my favorite things about this article is the images and clippings that go along with it, firsthand accounts from the time period that remind you the story is real.
Recipe 2: Jim Lahey’s Chocolate Chip Cookies via Shutterbean.
This recipe I followed exactly on my quest to find the perfect cookie. It’s damn near it. The dough is sticker than I’m used to, and when they’re baking they look like sad melted pancake batter but don’t freak out, or as my roommate says, “stop staring” because deformed baked goods often taste better and they do hold a shape. This cookie journey has also facilitated my first jaunt with an electric mixer. I come from a family of Armenian genocide survivors; apple corers and waffle makers (“single use appliances”) don’t hold the same weight when you wash your floors on hands & knees and wash your kids with Ajax. That said, the electric mixer is a heavy son of a bitch but I’m beginning to develop very tender feelings for it. It made cookies that matter, at least to my coworkers, who have since devoured them.
Article 2: Sweatpants in Paradise by Molly Young for The Believer
“I do not think I am alone in recounting my teenage years in terms of things bought and the hopes invested in them,” Molly Young writes, continuing on to say what many of us know: that immersive retail experiences put together by megachains like Hollister and Abercrombie & Fitch are trying to sell more than clothing. They’re selling an “aspirational lifestyle,” encouraging kids to buy marked up clothes for brand above quality. The best thing this article does is provide a relatable articulation of how they do prey on kids and remind me of how they used to prey on me. I remember being at A&F one day with this girl every boy wanted to french kiss. We were trying on shredded khaki shorts. I was still using green Walgreens gel in my hair and losing my baby teeth, but she had silky hair and nice calves. A girl folding told her she was “really pretty” and that they “love the look” and asked her to fill out an application. I guess in some twisted way I bought clothes at A&F invested in the hope that the world would respond to me the way they did her. But was I just trying to fit into a world that A&F had created in the first place?
Young writes, “Immersion retail presents clothes in the environment in which they are putatively designed to be worn, telling customers exactly what a product is supposed to mean.” So a totally unauthentic company like Hollister, which is named after a town 40 miles from the ocean and only offers banal, scrubbed reinforcements of SoCal stereotypes, is giving us context for a fake world we’re supposed to be aspiring to in some way. It’s only reflecting their decision on, which has shaped our perception of, how authentic surf culture should be. And then through creating an immersive experience that’s meant to be aspirational, it’s capitalizing on and perpetuating preteen and teenage infatuation with this generic All-American aesthetic. The loop is constant until college hits, and this is the only time I will ever quote Modern Family, especially Mitchell from Modern Family, talking to Manny, “This is the funny thing about growing up. For years and years, everybody’s desperately afraid to be different, you know, in any way. And then suddenly, almost overnight, everybody wants to be different. And that is where we win.”
Bake those cookies!
Till next time.