“Sexuality” Doesn’t Exist

May 14, 2011 § 2 Comments

Interesting conversations are happening in my living room right now.  They started with a discussion of the film Black Swan, which I won’t get into right now.  It morphed into an involved conversation about gay/queer identity, sexuality, femininity/masculinity, race, and religion.

I have become a strong believer in the idea that the concepts specifically of sexuality and race are completely empty.  They may have definitions, and they may be concepts used in worldwide society, but under scrutiny each term generalizes to the point of forfeiting their weight.

First take sexuality.  It has become the norm in Western society to consider sexuality as comprised of categories, although they can be organized in different ways; gay/straight, gay/bi/straight, and queer/straight are the most prevalent categorizations I’ve heard.  But stratifying society based on strict definitions involving sexual practice is impossible.  There’s the question of whether one thought or experience can change someone’s sexuality – an argument that not only gives the categories fuzzy edges, but makes them almost indiscernible.

Instead I offer that we consider humans holistically as a species.  On the whole, humans form relationships with each other.  These relationships are sometimes romantic or sexual.  Depending on individual preferences, these romantic/sexual relationships can be formed with members of the same sex, members of a different sex, or both interchangeably.  There are individuals who assume they are attracted to members of a certain sex but later become attracted to someone outside of their usual preference.  I don’t see why it is necessary for the society we live in to separate people based on who they form relationships with or who they engage in sexual acts with.  I don’t think any differently of a girl if I find out at a certain point that they date other girls.  They’re just like anybody else; the only difference to me is who they include in their dating pool.  And that doesn’t change my opinions or perceptions of them as a person.

I’m not even entirely comfortable using the term “sexuality”.  I just don’t see how it’s a relevant concept, since I don’t find it applicable to the world as it is.  Humans aren’t born categorized by such terms.  The idea of sexuality has no bearing on, nor does it reflect, anything about an individual’s personality, values system, or beliefs.  Although I understand that it has become something of an important tool in at least Western culture, I feel that is use is contrived and of little real use.

I don’t want it replaced by a more “appropriate” term; I want the idea to be gone as well.  People have romantic and sexual relationships with other people.  That’s all there is to it.

“Kitchen Sink” Potato Hash

February 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Short and sweet because this recipe is such a lazy-morning no-brainer.  This is exactly the kind of recipe you want when you wake up and know you just neeed something warm and starchy and garlicky to mess your eggs around in.  I forgot toast, but it wasn’t even missed.  And that is a big thing.

(One of these days, I’ll remember to take pictures. I used a purple potato, for crying out loud!)

Serves 2 college student stomachs.

1 potato, medium dice*
1/4 yellow onion, smallish dice (I’m obviously very precise about my potato hash…HA.)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
To this combination you can add a world of options (kale or chard, braised meat, mushrooms, chili flakes, some melty cheese at the finish) but here’s what I used:
1 Poblano pepper, diced
3 slices Canadian bacon, diced

Heat oil in a 12″ skillet (all those tasty bits left in the bottom of the pan by the end make me wish I had cast iron) over a medium-high flame.  Add onion and garlic, and cook until the onion just starts to soften, a couple minutes.  Add potato and let cook about 5 minutes, stirring as little as possible so that it gets a nice crust but doesn’t burn. Add Poblano and Canadian bacon, and season with salt and pepper.  Continue cooking until potato is cooked through and Poblano is somewhat softened, about 15-20 minutes.

*I cheated. I had a mostly-cooked purple potato left over from the previous night that I used, so my cooking time was way shorter.

Serve with two over-medium eggs and consume with gusto.  Follow up with board games in pajamas with the roommates.

Getting to Know Renoir

February 19, 2011 § 1 Comment

Jean Renoir is a son of the renowned painter, Auguste Renoir.  I’ve been getting to know his films lately, and I’m blown away with every new one I see.  Unfortunately I’ve only seen them once apiece (Le carrosse d’or is the only exception), so these can only be my first thoughts on the films.  So far I’ve been introduced to Un partie de campagne, a black-and-white shorter film about Nature, class, and love; La grande illusion, a black-and-white film whose characters are French members of a German POW camp; La règle du jeu, a black-and-white film, the complexity of which layers beautifully over time – the plot blooms before your eyes; The River, a color film set in Bengal, India which is an adaptation of a book by the same title authored by Rumer Godden, and despite its initial criticism for not being a true depiction of India (No tigers?!) I found it a beautifully intimate portrayal of the Bengal way of life; and Le carrosse d’or, a color film that focuses on the romantic trials of a woman who (truly) belongs to an Italian acting troupe.

I have found Renoir’s regard for his actors to be remarkable.  He strongly encouraged a collaborative mise-en-scène – all that/those we see in the scene, but also that which the camera does not capture.  This collaboration could lead to overhauls of the already belabored script or shooting script, which was just as well to Renoir, as his faith in his art led him to know that it would all be for the best.

This dynamic on scene makes for a different breed of film. Renoir’s practice of making very few takes so that the characters were fresh may cause the characters to seem overplayed at face value, but it makes for a feeling of spectacle.  Renoir embraced the knowledge that a film is intrinsically a work of fiction.  He was comfortable leaving in shots where the actors would goof off, even joining in as in La règle du jeu, where he himself plays a supporting role.  But instead of distancing us from the film as a work, it should bring us in.  If we look for the signs from the actors, we can join their game.  Renoir leaves the door open for us to enjoy the making of the film as they did.

Pan-Poached Egg

January 21, 2011 § 2 Comments

Maybe there’s a real name for this technique, but until I hear it, it is “pan-poached” to me. This is just delicious; it fixes the issue I have with fried eggs with whites that have gotten too done on the edges by the time the yolk is right where I want it, and the flavor combination here was exactly what I was craving today.
Frontera salsa, from what I’ve noticed, seems a bit “looser” or waterier than other brands. Add the tomato paste in small increments and stop when it is about the thickness you want. I like it to where it will just cling to the egg and not spread very much.

1/2 c. salsa (I used Frontera’s Jalapeño Cilantro salsa)
1 to 3 tbsp tomato paste, depending on the consistency of your salsa
1 egg
1 tbsp quark*
Salt and pepper to taste
Hot sauce of your choice to taste (optional)

Heat salsa in small saucepan until simmering. Spoon in tomato paste in increments, as noted above, until desired consistency is reached, blending well after each addition.
Gather tomato-salsa mixture into a puddle and make a well big enough for the egg to sit in, leaving a thin layer such that the egg will not quite touch the bottom of the pan.
Crack egg directly into the well. Season with salt and pepper.
Once the white sets around the edges, flip the egg. (I was super uptight and didn’t want the egg getting scorched on the second side, so I shuffled the salsa around to create a new well right next to the egg to flip it into.)
As soon as the white is entirely opaque, crumble the quark over the egg and spoon some of the salsa mixture over the quark to help it warm through.
Once the yolk is set to your liking (I like it on the over easy side for this), remove egg, salsa and all from the pan to a plate and enjoy. Add hot sauce if desired.
I imagine this would be excellent with tortilla or pita chips; unfortunately, I had none on hand to try it myself.

*If you don’t have quark (although you should really try to find it, as it’s absolutely delicious), you can substitute soft goat cheese (chevre) or a small dollop of sour cream on the finished product. I highly recommend investigating this fresh soft cheese however; it’s excellent with crackers and quite healthy to boot. Here’s the Wikipedia entry on quark.

Go forth and explore!

Better’n Home Fries.

November 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

I’ve done it. For the first time in weeks I have made something that I find REALLY tasty. And I made them on accident. (Isn’t that the way it always goes?)

Well, obviously I meant to make them. But I thought it was just going to be a way to use up the butternut squash I bought, oh…four weeks ago? But this is easily one of my new favorite recipes, if I may toot my own horn. I’d appreciate any feedback on recipe tweaks.

Also, just as a warning, this recipe is done in hindsight. I could very well be off a bit.

1 butternut squash, medium size (mine was about 8 or 9″ and kind of squat), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1″ cubes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c tahini (optional)
1/2 tsp lemon juice (optional)

Preheat oven to 450F. Cut up squash and put in a bowl. Add olive oil, garlic, spices and salt, and stir thoroughly so that the spices are distributed equally over all the squash. Spread squash in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in oven for about 30 minutes, or until soft inside and starting to brown.

Mix tahini and lemon juice. Serve alongside squash.

MANGIA.

Resurfacing

September 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

This is one of those rare gray days when I actually have the majority of the day to myself – and the house to boot. My new roommates (who were actually my friends to begin with) are wonderful, but on days like today it’s nice to have some lamplight, a couch, and a teapot all to yourself. Oh, and a nice playlist (I’m rather proud of my Bob Dylan/Simon & Garfunkel/The Mamas and the Papas/Jimi Hendrix/The Moody Blues compilation for today).

I made a ratatouille “tart” over the weekend (while home sick from work) and it came out even better than I expected. Here’s the original. I replaced the feta with chevre. I wish I could’ve found the Dufour puff pasty she refers to in the blog, but I probably wouldn’t have wanted to pay for it anyway. Leftover vegetables got roasted cut-side down to soften, then cut up and put to simmer with a can of chopped San Marzano tomatoes + juice, blended into soup, and received a smallish dose of leftover chevre…and promptly became lunch at work the next day.

I could blab about smittenkitchen.com for ages. Just discovered it last week, and I’ve already read every page on the site. It’s basically my fantasy culinary life.

Speaking of fantasies, I can’t wait to get my camera soon-ish! I’m planning on a Canon EOS 7D. It’ll be so great to have the ability to just go out and shoot video, and I’ve heard this model makes for some beautiful footage. Now, if only I had Final Cut Pro…

Oh food oh food oh food

January 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

I want the time and resources to make this. Now.

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Caramelized-Winter-Fruit-Custards-356892

Also, I will be making the new roommates dinner on Saturday night. As of right now the plan is braised pork shoulder with roasted winter vegetables and wilted spinach salad with goat cheese and toasted almonds. Cranberries? I’ll be asking for some dollars.

SO EXCITED.

Also, saw La Citta Aperta in Filmmaking last week. It took me at least half an hour to get my head out of it. Rossellini, essentially, is amazing. I’m excited to see what we end up watching this week (tomorrow!).

Came across some $5-7 (previously frozen) ahi tuna steaks at Lund’s yesterday and nabbed one. It’s currently sitting in tupperware, marinating with orange juice, lime juice, garlic and lemongrass. Hellooo dinner. At least I have something to look forward to after getting off work at 10.

Speaking of things to look forward to coming home for, I am now living with the most adorable cat ever. It’s like she was half puppy, half kitten. She’s 9 months old and a gray and white longhair with purdy eyes and a pink nose and she meows and is fluffy and cute and soft and and and….

And here she is!

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