Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Food for Thought

I know I should say something about Obama and Clinton and how Jeffrey Toobin said it was only the Clinton's "deranged narcissism" that let Hillary think the night was about her and not Obama. I know I should mention that as astonished as I am that a woman could be taken as seriously as Clinton was as a presidential candidate, I am equally astonished that a black man is the Democratic nominee.

Writing this now brings me back to an argument I had in a discussion group my first week of graduate school. (In a past life I was a doctoral student in Biblical Studies at the University of Chicago Divinity School.) A fellow student, South Asian woman, whose name I don't think I knew then, argued with not a little force that white women in this country have more power than men of color because they're white. This kind of comparison made me peevish -- frankly, it still does. Because by power, what exactly did she mean? I could go through a list of places where power plays out -- boardrooms, bedrooms, universities, speeches -- and none of it would matter. I happen to think that women in leadership positions aren't taken as seriously as men in this country, no matter their color.

But I also think that when you're talking about government leaders, corporate leaders, policy makers and big think kind of people, it almost doesn't matter. Yes, racism and sexism are deeply ingrained in our culture and ourselves. But someone who ascends into a public leadership role has done something that many other people have not. White men have the absolute easiest time doing that, but everyone has to overcome something. People who take on these roles are driven individuals and the discussions of racism and sexism and which is a bigger barrier just get tiresome. They're both bad, OK? They both make life more difficult for everyone. They both sap our public life of talent and opportunity. Can we all agree on that? Can we all agree to try to do better? Good. Let's sing!

Now, having written more about politics than I meant to and less than I should have given my chosen topic, I'll move on to what I was going to write about in this post: The food I ate in graduate school. I was inspired by this when I checked out a link from Jenny Davidson's blog to this blog. Looking over the latter post, I got all nostalgic for the really sad foods I ate as a grad student. Ramen, of course. I also ate something called "Pasta Stew" which was a devolving riff on a recipe from the New York Times that P.'s mom had ripped out and mailed her. It involved vegetables and pasta and oil and parmesan cheese and stock from the pasta, and I loved it, but, objectively speaking, it was gross. My friend N. would always mix her salsa with cottage cheese, which i thought was crazy delicious but once I dropped out of grad school, it didn't occur to me to do that again until I got pregnant and had to eat, like, buckets of protein every day. Finally, I now remember that it was only after I dropped out of grad school that I became interested in cooking. My friendship with Melissa flowered then, she taught me an awful lot about hands on cooking (my own mom taught me a lot about watching someone else cook; she is a masterful cook, my mother, but when it comes to how she is in the kitchen, C is for cooking and controlling), and I gave myself 10 years to learn to make better food. I bet if I tried that vegetable pasta stew now, it'd be a good bit less disgusting. If only I could find the recipe...

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