Sunday, July 3, 2011

Favaritism and e-scape-ism

This is how I feel about The Man Died: There's a reason A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch isn't five times its actual length. Sure, Wole Soyinka hands out pertinent pearls of wisdom right and left, and it's heartrending to read about the sufferings of Nigeria's political prisoners, and it's crucial that a record of the human rights violations by the government be set down. Even the greatest of insights, however, becomes old hat after two hundred pages or so, and being glad that Soyinka survived to publicize the atrocities committed against him and thousands upon thousands of others only sustains a certain amount of interest in the actual prose. Yeah, I hate to say it, but after 200 pages, I was blasé in the face of Soyinka's incredible fortitude and incredible suffering. Perhaps I made a mistake reading it all in one go, because those segments I enjoyed the most were those immediately subsequent to a lengthy reading break. Overall, I'm glad I read it, but installments would definitely have been the way to go. I also recently finished An Unfortunate Woman, Richard Brautigan's last novel. It's amazing that something so witty and quirky also, in retrospect, is a clear presage to Brautigan's suicide. I'd recommend picking this up. After reading this story at the recommendation of a friend, I'm a little enamored of Amy Hempel, so her collected stories are next, followed by Walter Benjamin for Children. I am absolutely gleeful that both Bobst and the NYUPL have both those books. Choices, choices!

In other news, these are scapes:

They taste like the Valium-plied love child of garlic and onions. What they really are is the shoot at the top of the garlic, that thing that turns into a woody stem as the garlic matures. I made them into a sauce with yogurt, rice wine vinegar, and lemon juice, and I used that to make a new potato and fava bean salad, topped with feta, chopped almonds, and a sprinkling of chives.

Christ, this picture is awful.
Fresh fava beans are palate-charmingly delicious, but I'm glad I was making them for one. I forgot to take pictures before I shelled them, but the gist is that they come in long pods about the thickness of a man's thumb. In those pods are the beans encased in leathery capsules that are nestled in spongy white stuff. They have to be extracted from all that packaging, after which you're left with a pile of bright green beans and a much larger pile of detritus. This gives you a pictorial idea of the process. This has some information as to why you shouldn't eat fava beans if you have glucose-6-phosphatase deficiency. This is just adorable.

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