Following John McPhee to Florida.
McPhee’s book about oranges in the age of concentrate production is not a screed against industrial food or agribusiness priorities. There’s no scolding chapter explaining which oranges to buy at the grocery store. For that matter, there’s no hand-holding “what will happen in this book” chapter or really even much in the way of plot or main character, aside from the regular presence of our reporter guide. In that way, it doesn’t much resemble the books published about food today.
An installment of Chris Offutt’s Omnivore column, Cooking with Chris.
Every prepper magazine carried an article on water, mainly because there are a lot of overpriced devices out there for gathering, purifying, and transporting it. This gave me a sense of ease because as a rural man, I have my own well and am not dependent on external sources! My mitigation was fleeting—the pump runs on electricity. Just like that, I became a selfish, uncaring, deficient man, dependent on the power grid. A section on “Clean Water Wares” gave me serious concern due to its opening line:
With very few exceptions, water is the most important element required to survive an extended emergency.
Cooking with Chris. The author lays out his imaginary career as a spy in another hilarious essay, comparing the "Stories and Recipes From CIA Families All Over the World" and the "Cherokee Club Cookbook." As he says, these texts were literally meant for him to find.
Within certain communities, it’s become popular to host “white trash parties” where people are urged to bring Cheetos, pork rinds, Vienna sausages, Jell-O with marshmallows, fried baloney, corndogs, RC cola, Slim Jims, Fritos, Twinkies, and cottage cheese with jelly. In short—the food I ate as a kid in the hills.
I came to Replacements, Ltd. to see the huge collection of Fiestaware, the beloved American-made brand of colorful china, and to follow a hunch I had that a plate has special significance in the South. This was both an ethnographic mission for my work as a cultural anthropologist and a personal quest: I am one of countless Americans who collect Fiestaware.
"It’s exceptionally difficult to talk about Haw—the newest record from Hiss Golden Messenger, the songwriting alias of M. C. Taylor—without talking about death, and Sunday morning seemed like as good a time as any for Taylor and me to get into it. We were seated outside at Durham’s Geer Street Garden, and in between forkfuls of grits I was trying to tell him about an interview I’d read with the Sri Lankan monk Bhante Gunaratana, in which Gunaratana suggested that death is constant, omnipresent."
It’s an American tradition made manifest in class ascendancy (moving to New York to escape a hick town, getting an education and altering an accent): when we feel incomplete—when we feel uncomfortable in our own skin—we seek newer, richer identities. We examine the people who have what we want; we costume ourselves.