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Sad doesn’t have to mean hungry

In my capacity as one of our prominent internet resources on Keith Gessen, I was recently contacted by Melony Carey, author of a column called “Food by the Book” (in the Muskogee Daily Phoenix), which combines book reviews with recipes from the books’ sociohistorical milieux.  Carey was working on a review of All the Sad Young Literary Men and wanted to know what the sad young literary men ate.  I wrote to Keith, asking what he cooked in grad school; in this way, I learned that Keith apparently didn’t cook a whole lot in grad school:

Oh gosh Elif! While I was in Syracuse I mostly took to dipping black bread into pasta sauce and calling it pizza. You are going to have to carry the load on this one, I’m afraid. If I think of anything else…. but I’m fairly certain that’s all I ate the entire time. That and coffee. And beer. I’m afraid. And yet here I am. 

I encourage you all to read Carey’s piece, “Sad doesn’t have to mean hungry,” which includes recipes for: “pizza,” provided by Keith Gessen; bulgur pilav, provided by me; borscht, provided by the literary historian Luba Golburt; and fried chicken, provided by the novelist Hillary Jordan. You will note that, of all the currently and formerly penniless literati whom Carey hit up for recipes (me, Luba, Keith, Hillary Jordan, Junot Díaz, and Guillermo Martínez), the sad young literary men didn’t really provide any recipes (maybe Keith provided like half a recipe), while the women all came through.  But I will not belabor this point.

I have never fried a chicken before but am considering giving it a shot, since it appears from Jordan’s encouraging recipe that, contrary to my previous beliefs, this is not actually an activity which requires a deep fryer.  I mean, even I own a skillet that can fit 1.5 inches of oil.  I think I even own some of Tony Chachere’s Famous Creole Seasoning, because my little brother in New Orleans (the one who is still in high school) once gave me, for my birthday, a Tony Chachere gift package, consisting of the seasoning plus a handsome edition of Tony Chachere’s Cajun Country Cookbook, Tony Chachere's Cajun Country Cookbooknotable for its “bold inclusion of ways to prepare nutria, raccoon, even coot and alligator.”  I think my brother was six when he came up with this inventive present… the previous year, he gave me a vibrating hairbrush, from Brookstone, a vaguely obscene-looking object which had the amazing property of simultaneously brushing your hair and curing migraine.    

A parting word to those of my esteemed readers who left comments on my blog and never received any acknowledgement: I am sorry!  I think, there is something wrong with the Wordpress notifier, such that it hasn’t actually been notifying me of anything.  But I wrote replies here (to Kizmok and Burcu, a graduate student of comparative literature who has a wonderful Turkish recipe blog), and here (to Indran and Derya).  Thanks, guys!

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5 Responses to “Sad doesn’t have to mean hungry”

  1. luba Says:

    I was happy to find out that Muskogee thinks II contribute to the London Review of Books. Maybe I should?

  2. Elif Says:

    I think we should all do whatever the Muskogee Phoenix says we do.

  3. Emily Says:

    Hi, Elif. I highly recommend frying chicken. It’s fun. Though in a grad student studio all of your belongings would smell of fry kitchen for many days. My aunt recommends peanut oil and a long, long cold buttermilk bath for the chicken.

  4. melony Says:

    Thank you, Elif and Luba, for my slight misinterpretation of your CVs!!! I hope no one was insulted, especially you, Elif, since I short-changed your writing career! Thanks again for the recipes – they were greatly enjoyed by all!

  5. Elif Says:

    Thanks to Emily and Melony and to all those who have publicly and privately expressed their support and advice regarding my intention to someday fry a chicken!

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