26 June 2007

mixed bag -- IF

IF you get a chance to see The Roches in concert, do! We've seen them at least 5 times, but the concert on Saturday was one of the best ever. Their harmonies were as glorious as ever, they were relaxed and happy to be performing, and Maggie even said hello to the audience. My favorite album is the first one because it includes "Hammond Song," with chillingly lovely harmonies, and "Pretty and High," a very odd little song, indeed - my cup of tea!

IF you want to read a book that will put you off your feed permanently, try The Omnivore's Dilemma. I listened to the (excellent) audiobook in my car, which might not have been the best venue, since some of the descriptions (gutting a wild boar, for example, or descriptions of the conditions of hens in commercial egg factories) are so vivid and disgusting that I nearly was ill in the car. Michael Pollan's dual quests were to discover the precise provenance of food, and to create a meal from ingredients he had grown, caught, killed, or foraged -- in other words, to become mindful of his food. Mindfulness itself can be interpreted as mind-full, as in fact-gathering, or mindful, as in granting the current experience the respect of full attention.

Some of the facts and experiences that Pollan shares are delightful -- the subculture of mushroom-hunters, for example, itinerants who inhabit the sub-culture of forests in search of their strange crops, or the beauty of the yolk of one fresh, perfect egg. Other facts about the way our industrial/agricultural system grows and harvests its food (our food) (particularly the meats) are so horrific that I can not imagine how they can be legal, no less government-subsidized.

Pollan spares us nothing, neither the horrific nor the beautiful, in this combination of investigative reporting and memoir. Fortunately, he is a personable and reasonable writer who can poke fun at himself without becoming cute. The meal he prepares at the end of the book is not quite what he had intended, since he was forced into some compromises -- the salt he had gathered from the ocean tasted so toxic that it was unusable, for example. It certainly did not tickle my appetite, since the idea of eating any meat, no less from a wild pig, is too revolting to consider! But the point of his meal, the mindfulness of its preparation, can be relished by all.

IF I could, I would spend the next month doing nothing but reading Harry Potter and knitting socks. Alas.

9 comments:

Stephanie said...

I can't read any books about food or about germs. Just too much to be paranoid about that is so beyond my control!

Thanks you thank you thank you for the Ottoline book. I will start it after my Harry Potter re-read cycle is done - middle of book three. :)

Bells said...

I've always been quite curious about the Roches. Well, not always, but for a long time. I know them through their work with the Indigo Girls, but not in their own right. That's a good endorsement form you, Melanie. I'll check them out.

Glad to see you've got the sock bug!

Jennifer said...

I don't think I can take the Pollan book. Fast Food Nation, and My Year of Meats nearly did me in.

pixie girl said...

The book sounds really fascinating, but I'm not sure I could take it, either. I'll have to check out The Roches, too. Aah Harry Potter, Harry Potter... Although, really - I'd go for one of the Weasley twins:)!

KnitNana said...

I think I will have to pass on that one. I had enough trouble with Diet for A New America a few years ago...
(((hugs)))

Becky said...

I love the Roches! They are so much fun. I've only seen them once -- at the annual camping concert I will be going to this weekend. You are lucky to have seen them five times!

Harry Potter is seriously cutting into my life. Even though I am listening to the audiobooks, I just can't put them down! This is why I stopped reading fiction many, many years ago. ;) Hope you find lots of reading and knitting time!

Bridget said...

I too love The Roches! One of my favorites is their Christmas CD, where they put their spin on traditional carols ...

Harry Potter. I would join you in your summer of HP, sock knitting, and I would add chocolate (it's hard to read HP without having chocolate!)

It's Me...Maven said...

I loved reading the book. When you are done with the audio, if you own the disks, would you send them my way? I'm sure I'd be able to appreciate HEARING it as well!

As you know the book has affected me, deeply!

Carrie K said...

Oh, the Omnivore's Dilemna was positively scary. Enlightening and frightening. It really made me despair there was any alternatives except raising and killing my own food. In which case, it's just going to be spiders.