Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Arctophagy and the Mysteries of Boyhood

Detail of illustration from Beni’s Family Cookbook by Frances Breskin Zalben, a book about bears who cook Jewish food.

The Wee’an enjoyed having Farmer Boy read to him tremendously, but he will not, I said will not be persuaded to listen to Little House in the Big Woods because it is about girls. But they do eat a bear. I mean for crying out loud, they eat a bear. I should think shooting and eating a honking great bear ought to cancel out any number of girls, but the cold hard facts prove otherwise.

Remember the beginning of The Long Winter, when Laura had been out haying in the sun, and she finally drinks some ginger-water after enduring such agonizing thirst?

She was thirsty, then she was thirstier, and then she was so thirsty that she could think of nothing else. It seemed forever till ten o’clock when Carrie came lugging the jug half-full.

Pa told Laura to drink first, but not too much. Nothing was ever so good as that cool wetness going down her throat. . . .

Ma had sent them ginger-water. She had sweetened the cool well-water with sugar, flavored it with vinegar, and put in plenty of ginger to warm their stomachs so they could drink till they were not thirsty. . . . Such a treat made that ordinary day into a special day, the first day that Laura helped in the haying.

That’s what it’s like rereading these books.

This site has Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Gingerbread, introduced with a letter in her own hand.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great idea about Beni's Family Cookbook. I love the illustration. Very nice.

Thanks for posting that Laura Ingalls excerpt and the letter in her own handwriting. Cool!


p.s. have you made her gingerbread before?

2:09 AM  
Blogger the chocolate doctor מרת שאקאלאד said...

I have not yet tried This recipe. I do endorse her comment that "chocolate adds to the goodness"

4:54 AM  
Blogger zoe p. said...

While I was drifting in and out of sleep last night and this morning I wondered what would happen if one tried to give Mary masculine pronouns . . . virtuous, patient, a little uppity, blonde, blind, MALE . . . you'd have to skip that whole chapter on the polonaise. I mean, unless by the time you got that far you'd quite unseated your offsprings notions of gender.

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Wee'an may come to appreciate the rest of the Little House books someday. Even though they were around the house when we were little because I read them religiously, my brother finally read them for the first time a year or two ago (in his late 20s -- I'm not sure what made him pick them up). He really liked them, mostly because of the great descriptions of everything the Ingalls family did for themselves: hunting, cooking, planting, building houses, etc.

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, there's a "Little House on the Prairie Cookbook", which is all sorts of exciting: it introduces recipes with large chunks of the novels, and explains about ingredients, and references other period cookbooks, and tells you how to make vinegar... it's great.

No idea whether it's in print, but I was given a copy of it as a kid (circa 1990, probably?) and I liked it very much.

11:22 AM  
Blogger the chocolate doctor מרת שאקאלאד said...

Barbara Walker's Little House Cookbook is a real triumph of the cookbook-adapted-from-children's-literature genre.

How many kids were able to attmpt roasting that whole pig, though?

12:10 PM  

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