A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Balance and Harmony

In my bedroom are two bears. Right now they're living on the mantel because I have a dog who likes to chew things. The bear with the purple bow is almost as old as I am. He's a Steiff bear, I believe. His name is Edward Peter John Brownie. I can't remember when I didn't have him. My sister liked cats, and had a stuffed cat she slept with for years. I had Brownie.

A few years ago, when it was just me and my youngest son, Amir, living together (we didn't have the dog yet, and Brownie was vacationing out of state), Amir gave me the other bear for Christmas, so I wouldn't be alone. Teddy has brought me a lot of luck, not to mention companionship.

According to the principles of feng shui, everything in a bedroom should be in pairs. So Brownie and Teddy sit up on the mantel, promoting balance and harmony in the household, discouraging isolation.

That Tofu Crap

Tonight, as usual, as soon as I started cooking Amir appeared out of nowhere, announcing that he was "wicked hungry." He wanted what I was having, except that he opted for juice over chardonnay, so I made a double batch of what's become my signature salad. Romaine with plenty of very good olive oil, coarse salt, and pepper, and just a spritz of lemon juice and a bit of crushed red pepper. And then on top of the greens, some sizzling-hot tofu, diced and sauteed in olive oil and splashed with tamari.

Both of my boys are conflicted on the subject of tofu. While routinely denouncing "that tofu crap," calling instead for meat, they wolf down tofu with unconcern for logical consistency whenever I cook it. What they don't like, apparently, is the idea of tofu.

Food is a very political subject. Food habits are divided on lines of race, sex, class, and age. While statistics on vegetarianism and veganism are spotty and untrustworthy, it seems that the v's are more likely to be female, more likely to be youngish, and more likely to be from either coast than from the south or midwest. As income and education rises, so does the likelihood of v'ism.

One Tuesday when Amir was perhaps eight years old, he announced that he was going to be a vegetarian on Tuesdays. He eschewed meat that day, and again a week later. Soon he decided to be a vegetarian full-time. He was pretty consistent, turning down pepperoni pizza at birthday parties and asking bemused McDonald's clerks for the breakdown of the frying oils. When he hit puberty, he reverted to carnivorism, angrily accusing his animal-rights-activist sister of having imbued him with guilt.

I love food--eating it, cooking it, reading and talking about it. I find disturbing the current climate of fear in this country surrounding what we eat. Food isn't merely sustenance, but the source of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, carrier of deadly viruses and allergens.

I'm a vegetarian, not for health reasons, but because I don't want to kill anything, and having someone else kill things for me is just passing the buck, imho. But I don't think I have a negative attitude about food. There are so many dishes out there, I will never get to try them all. I don't think about the ones I don't choose to eat, but, rather, happily anticipate the rest. Raspberries and cream, stuffed baby artichokes, asparagus with béarnaise sauce, sundried tomato soup. And, of course, all that tofu crap.