Thing of the Week: The Day LJ Went to Marc Bolan's House, The Vegetarian Epicure, Fabulous Fake Food

LJ'S THING OF THE WEEK: The Day I Went To Marc Bolan's House

I went to Marc Bolan’s house on Monday. I was in a mopey mood for no real reason, just for love of the mopeyness game. I wondered if maybe I should save my pilgrimage to Marc Bolan’s childhood home for a less mopey day, but then I decided to just suck it up and be mopey on the day I went to Marc Bolan’s house. Whatever. I wore heels and a trench coat and big sunglasses and tried to throw some shade. I didn’t want to throw shade at people, and I certainly didn’t want to throw shade at nature. I guess I just wanted to quietly throw shade in general. And I think I succeeded.

Marc Bolan is from Stoke Newington, which is where I now live. He lived at 25 Stoke Newington Common from when he was born on September 30, 1947, until 1962. I don’t know what happened in 1962 that made him move away. I’m assuming his family just moved to another house, since that’s what people do. I moved too.

According to my Citymapper app, Marc Bolan’s childhood home is a twenty-seven minute walk from my house, but I made it in twenty-one. Citymapper underestimated me. I guess it doesn't want to make slow walkers feel bad about themselves. 

I listened to Electric Warrior and The Slider on shuffle as I walked. Telegram Sam came on, and I started to perk up a little. Then Life’s A Gas played, and I perked down, in a good way. It’s about as sad as a song called Life’s A Gas could be while still managing to successfully communicate the fact that life’s a gas. The first line, “I could have loved you, girl, like a planet,” really murders me, right off the bat. I don’t understand how any girl could ever have been stupid enough to reject Marc Bolan’s love. (Like a planet! What a cool way to love somebody.) During Life's A Gas, I realized that I am almost exactly the same age Marc Bolan was when he died. Marc Bolan died fourteen days before his thirtieth birthday, and that day was twenty-four days before my thirtieth birthday. I felt so sad to realize what a short and unsatisfying life length poor Marc got stuck with, but also grateful to comprehend the duration of his lifespan so accurately, so viscerally. Moments later I spotted a snappy green sports car, which I think Marc Bolan would have liked. It motivated me to listen to Jeepster and really hype out to “Just like a car, you’re pleasing to behold,” which is such a hot and creative thing for a jeepster to tell a girl he’s got a crush on. Marc Bolan had a lot of game, in my opinion.

Eventually I got to Marc’s house. It was meaningful, but not life-changingly so. It was medium-meaningful. I thought, I spent the first half of my twenties constructing meaningful experiences for myself to live out— I’m going to go to X place and listen to X song at X time while wearing X outfit and eating X and it's going to be soooooo X— and then the second half of my twenties condemning my early-twenties self for so desperately trying to create something out of nothing. I’ve spent the past five years of my life confronting the meaninglessness of everything and relishing in it, in doing so forcing meaninglessness to take the place of "meaningful-ness", which was defensive of me. Now I’m thirty (more or less) and I don’t expect anything to be meaningful, though if it is, that’s great. And if it’s meaningless, there’s not much I can do about it, so whatever. That’s maturity, I guess, for me: just letting things be. "Let It Be Medium-Meaningful," that's my new life-motto. 

It was a cute house, but nothing too special— Stoke Newington is basically the cute house capital of the world, and I would put Marc Bolan’s childhood home in maybe the forty-fifth Stoke Newington-house-cuteness percentile. I’d ripped a white flower off a bush to leave at Marc Bolan’s front door as a way of saying thank you to the Universe for giving me Marc Bolan but by the time I got there I’d forgotten about it. It died in my pocket and when I found it a few hours later I felt guilty for killing it for no reason.

I sat on a bench on Stoke Newington Common and listened to the T.Rex song Main Man. I got it confused with Ballrooms of Mars; I’d wanted to hear Marc Bolan sing “John Lennon knows your name and I’ve seen his,” but instead I got to hear Marc Bolan sing “As a child, I laughed a lot/ Now it seems I cry a lot/ Oh, tell me true/ Don’t you?” which was probably better. I imagined baby Marc Bolan frolicking around that very park, and decided that Marc Bolan must have been the kind of kid that grown-ups constantly congratulated for having "such a good imagination!" I was a “good imagination” kid too. Adults praise the hell out of little kids for having such fabulous fucking imaginations but once you grow up, they stop caring. All us good imagination kids are just supposed to convert our imaginations into business acumen or social media savvy or whatever, and it’s really unfair, because imagining things is my skill. Marc Bolan was the dreamiest, most poetic sweetheart ever to grace the face of rock & roll. He stayed a good imagination kid forever.

LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEKThe Vegetarian Epicure

My gym is next door to a Goodwill. Yesterday morning I was leaving the gym and saw that Goodwill had set out a bargain-book table, so I popped in to check it out, and ended up buying a copy of The Vegetarian Epicure for $1.25. It's a cookbook from 1972 and it's by Anna Thomas who, in her author's note, self-describes as "strongly committed to the women's liberation movement and involved in its activities." I love Anna Thomas. I love her book. It's very cutely illustrated, and overwritten in a way that I can really get behind. For example, here's a paragraph from her intro to the "Vegetables" section:

"The vegetables presented to you believe wholeheartedly in their own importance. They combine smartly with eggs, cheese, and one another; they are on intimate terms with herbs and spices, and you will find them frequenting the tastiest crusts and custards. Certain of them are capable of gently dominating the table, alone or in discriminating combination with other glories. All are prepared to please you."

She's such a poet about eggs too. A few months ago I listened to Brian Koppelman interviewing Ivan Ramen, and Ivan Ramen said something about how "People who don't like eggs need to reflect," and I've seriously thought about that sentence every day since I first heard it. Anna Thomas would agree with Ivan Ramen about eggs and reflection, I feel. Here's some of her cool egg thoughts:

"The humble egg astonishes us with its versatility. It binds together, puffs, lifts up, thickens, enriches, makes smooth, and makes strong - all this when its simple beauty would alone earn our admiration...To some great dishes, it is soul and substance: custards would not exist without it, nor would crepes, or mousse...a serious thought."

And, on souffles:

"It is its ephemeral nature that is responsible for the mystique of the souffle. Brought to the table straight from a hot oven in the full glory of its lofty architecture, it lasts only for a choice moment of drama and acclaim. Then it must be eaten at once or it will disappear of its own accord. Thus a sweet excitement climaxes the dinner, and not lasting long enough for reconsideration or ennui, the airy souffle leaves a more intriguing memory than sturdier fare."

I also like when she throws shade in the "Eggs" section recipe for Parsleyed Eggs on the Half Shell, writing: "I have known this elegant and simple dish ever since early childhood and, as a consequence, when I first was exposed to American-style deviled eggs, I found them painfully plebeian by comparison." Anna Thomas really tells it like it is.

I don't like this guy, the "Rice and Other Grains" guy. I feel like he's the stuffy, no-fun version of "France George Harrison" that I wrote about in our Top 5 Hottest George Harrisons Ever post earlier this year. When I first saw this drawing I was going to make a big deal about how "Rice and Other Grains" dude is the George Harrison of The Vegetarian Epicure, but I pretty quickly realized that (a) George Harrison's personal style is way too on-point to ever grow such awful facial hair, and (b) George Harrison is way too cool a human to ever pretentiously use chopsticks while eating a bowl of rice in lotus pose. This guy is maybe the "random Jethro Tull member" of The Vegetarian Epicure, at best.

But I love this guy! He's so terrible at eating his pasta. What a trainwreck. Imagine if you cooked a plate of spaghetti for a dude and that was how he went at it? I like how the woman's expression is all "Oh, umm...okay, yeah - cool." Maybe she's about to teach him how to twirl up his spaghetti in a nice little fat bundle, using a big spoon for support - a la Cher in Moonstruck, aka the most beautiful spaghetti-twirler there ever was.

Speaking of romance, I like this bit from the "Pasta" section intro: "It is well represented in restaurants, but most Italians, understanding the delicate nature of the art, wisely partake of their pasta at home. Follow their example. Remember how wonderful is the privacy of home, even when shared with friends, for such a voluptuous activity as the eating of pasta." That's a cool point, although I'm of the opinion that spaghetti should absolutely be eaten in public. On my birthday last year I ate spaghetti in a bar, and I think it'd be great if everyone ate spaghetti in bars all of the time.

The most exciting part of the "Curries and Indian Preparations" section is when Anna Thomas lists off potential items to include in the condiment tray for curry dinner, such as:

-apricot halves broiled with anise
-baked grapefruit with sherry and cinnamon
-deviled almonds
-peach halves stuffed with seasoned cream cheese
-stewed gooseberries
-spiced eggs
-pickled walnuts
-pickled mushrooms
-preserved ginger
-shredded coconut
-soaked raisins
-lemon, lime, or grapefruit peel
-green olives

Apricot halves broiled with anise! I haven't eaten Indian food in a thousand years. I want to go to Paru's and drink iced water from a copper cup and white wine from a carafe and get the Queen Paru for dinner and the Bombay Punch for a dessert drink. Paru's is one of my fave Los Angeles restaurants, I just decided. I love how you have to ring the doorbell to get in.

My main point about the artwork accompanying the "Sweets" section intro is that I'm really into how all the people in The Vegetarian Epicure illustrations have this melancholy air about them. Though maybe they're all just very much deep in thought, meditating on the splendor of their foods. As for the text, my favorite "Sweets" moment is in Anna Thomas's recipe for galub jamun. She describes the dish as "a very special sort of Indian sweetmeat, with an impossible fragrance: roses and saffron...It will always be greeted with a chorus of 'What is it?!'" I can't see these four duds speaking anything in chorus, but maybe the guy in the vest and ascot would pipe up. I also like the babe in the starry skirt, and of course that four-layer strawberry cake is just to die for.

In the intro to "Holidays, Traditions, and Some New Thoughts," Anna Thomas has lots to say about rethinking holiday meals. She tells this big long story about some Thanksgiving she hosted, which sounds crazy and like heaven:

"That meal began, amid genial toasting with a venerable, ruby-red Margaux, with Roast Chestnut Soup - a rich and mellow liquid, flavored with red wine and cognac, it emerged as instant tradition with us. Gracefully following it was Curried Lentil and Tomato Salad in pineapple boats. The third course consisted of crisp Almond Croquettes bathed in creamy Bechamel sauce, accompanied by Cranberry-Cumberland Sauce and Potatoes in Wine. Chilled Cider-Spiced Apples ended the first part of that debauch. Four hours later, in a mood of lackadaisical hilarity, we had some pumpkin pie, coffee, and a ceremonial pipe."

Potatoes in wine! Have you ever heard of such a thing? I like how Anna Thomas is all wink-wink about getting stoned on Thanksgiving. Classic Anna Thomas. And that's fantastic about the ruby-red Margaux - Ken Cosgrove'll have a snort!

And at first I just wanted to include this picture because the cat looks like my cat, but then I realized that the woman looks kind of like me, too. So, here I am, guys. Hi. I'm making a menu for dinner tonight. Come over for almond soup and potatoes romanoff and Russian vegetable pie and chestnut souffle and spoonbread and tomato rabbit and apple pudding and raspberry fool and everything.

JEN'S THING OF THE WEEK: Fabulous Fake Food

I had the opportunity to walk through Eclectic/Encore Props in Long Island City last night. I fell in love with the entire place, which is a warehouse/wonderland filled with props. Furniture. Cups. Armor. Crystal Balls. Abraham Lincoln busts. Religious statues. Chairs. So many chairs. Most importantly,a beautiful collection of fabulous fake food. Look at these glorious plastic and foam cakes, breads, ice creams. Surrounded by plastic meat and deviled eggs, I almost felt like I was in John Waters' home.




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