Wednesday, November 21, 2012

We traded parts and gnawed.

     No one wanted to cook that night. We all got in the car and went out to the commercial strip in the no man’s land beyond the town boundary. The never-ending neon. I pulled in at a place that specialized in chicken parts and brownies. We decided to eat in the car. The car was sufficient for our needs. We wanted to eat, not look around at other people. We wanted to fill our stomachs and get it over with. We didn’t need light and space, We certainly didn’t need to face each other across a table as we ate, building a subtle and complex cross-network of signals and codes. We were content to eat facing in the same direction, looking only inches past our hands. There was a kind of rigor in this. Denise brought the food out to the car and distributed paper napkins. We settled in to eat. We ate fully dressed, in hats and heavy coats, without speaking, ripping into chicken parts with our hands and teeth. There was a mood of intense concentration, minds converging on a single compelling idea. I was surprised to find I was enormously hungry. I chewed and ate, looking only inches past my hands. This is how hunger shrinks the world. This is the edge of the observable universe of food. Steffie tore off the crisp skin of a breast and gave it to Heinrich. She never ate the skin. Babette sucked a bone. Heinrich traded wings with Denise, a large for a small. He thought small wings were tastier. People gave Babette their bones to clean and suck. I fought off an image of Mr. Gray lazing naked on a motel bed, an unresolved picture collapsing at the edges. We sent Denise to get more food, waiting for her in silence. Then we started in again, half stunned by the dimensions of our pleasure.
     [ … ] There was another pause. We waited to learn if the dialogue was over. Then we set to eating again. We traded unwanted parts in silence, stuck our hands in cartons of rippled fries. Wilder liked the soft white fries and people picked these out and gave them to him. Denise distributed ketchup in little watery pouches.
      The interior of the car smelled of grease and licked flesh. We traded parts and gnawed.

—DeLillo, White Noise

Monday, September 24, 2012 Tuesday, May 15, 2012

While waiting for my body to stuff itself
Hunched over its dish of stewmeat and its glass,
My spirit flew away: a celestial wolf
Trotting the heavens on its invisible paws.

[ … ] Meanwhile, on earth, my body was wiping the grease
From its muzzle. Drinking and eating too much made it heavy.
On the table before it, instead of the Golden Fleece,
Lay only a mess of bones in a puddle of gravy.

"Spirit," by Boris Christov, transl. Robert Pinsky.
Friday, March 16, 2012

Guilt and Grease

The following are the most common words for swine in Old Norse:

svín, villisvín, túnsvín
gylta, gyltr, sýr, göltr, galti, villigöltr,
gríss, runi, (jǫfurr)622.

[…] The heiti used for the swine (svín) in poetry, according to Snorri are: sýr, gylta, runi, gǫltr, gríss. Svín is used as a common term for the swine; sýr and gylta representing the female swine, runi and gǫltr, the male swine, and gríss the piglet. These terms are all common nouns which appear often in the sagas. There is nonetheless a question whether Nordic people made a difference between the domestic and the wild pig (as people draw differences between the dog and the wolf): In Old Norse literature, the words gǫltr and galti (boar) and gylta and gyltr (sow) are used almost without exception for both kinds of swine, while the words villigǫltr or villisvín (wild boar, wild pig) are used only occasionally. It seems though that the words jǫfurr or runi might have originally been used only for the wild boar. It is noteworthy that in Celtic languages, two different terms are used for the wild swine and the pig. It is nonetheless hard to say whether such a division existed in Old Norse. It is possible that the difference became partly forgotten in Iceland (where most extant literature on Old Nordic religion originates) because there were no wild pigs there, meaning there was no big need to stress the difference in language. Certainly words like túnsvín and túngǫltr (used for home pigs or field pigs) underline some form of difference, but these terms are not common in literature.

— Lenka Kovarova, The Swine in Old Nordic Religion and Worldview (re jofurr see also: Eoforwicceaster)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Nipples and grease

The truth is I can’t even remember
her face. I kind of know how strong
her thighs were, and her beauty.
But what I won’t forget
is the way she tore open
the barbecued chicken with her hands,
and wiped the grease on her breasts.

— Jack Gilbert, “Duende”. This is from a Dwight Garner review of his Collected which also says:

Mr. Gilbert is a virtuoso poet of the appetites. “We end up asking what our lives really tasted like,” he observes, and in his poems we find hot bowls of tripe and sardine sandwiches and lentils and cheese and tomatoes and bread and whole hogs on spits. In a poem called “Getting Away with It” he recalls: “Me eating the hot wurst I couldn’t afford,/in frozen Munich, tears dropping.”

(Here are the hot bowls of tripe. All the descriptions I can find in the CP are perfunctory and this doesn’t seem like a lead esp. worth following up on. As usual, Dwight garners the best passages…)


No other major American poet deploys the word “nipples” as often as Mr. Gilbert does.


“I don’t hang out,” he said in a 2005 Paris Review interview. He frequently sounded cranky and goatish in that Q. and A., but perhaps he’s allowed. He was 80 then, and 87 now.

Al watched Cataract go to work on a hamburger. He held it between thick, grease-stained fingers that dug into it, much as they might have sunk into a woman. He swallowed a large piece, slobbering a little, and slapping his tongue noisily against the roof of his mouth as he ate. Al watched him, fascinated. Wild thoughts of seizing the hamburger, and fighting the man for it, deviled him… . Cataract lit a cigarette, and exhaled noisily, with a little belch of content. Norman Mailer, “The Greatest Thing in the World”
Tuesday, March 6, 2012 Monday, February 27, 2012
He ate his dinner with surly appetite and, when the meal was over and the greasestrewn plates lay abandoned on the table, he rose and went to the window, clearing the thick scum from his mouth with his tongue and licking it from his lips. So he had sunk to the state of a beast that licks his chaps after meat. […] His soul was fattening and congealing into a gross grease, plunging ever deeper in its dull fear into a sombre threatening dusk while the body that was his stood, listless and dishonoured, gazing out of darkened eyes, helpless, perturbed, and human for a bovine god to stare upon. Joyce, Portrait
Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"Personally, I like mutton best and chicken least."

Anthony Powell’s mutton curry recipe. Do not try this at home: “a relative of Powell’s had told [Patrick] French [it] was “absolutely disgusting, but we had to pretend we liked it.”” (via) Among Powell’s instructions:

Bombay duck is dried in the oven, but popadums are not at all easy to cook without making them greasy. A fish-slice is useful in holding them down and removing them at the right moment from the pan.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Grease is the word; grease
is the way

I am feeling.

Rae Armantrout