Frida could have laughed. She hadn't heard that word in a long while.
‘Think of it as a sweet pancake,’ Anika explained. 'It’s French, and traditionally made with cherries.’
'I know what it is, Anika.’
'Do you now?’”
- California by Edan Lepucki (Chapter 13)
I was inspired by this passage to finally bake a clafoutis. I’ve been meaning to try out this recipe and had an overabundance of both cherries and time this weekend.
I’m not sure Anika actually knew what a clafoutis is or if she was intentionally being obtuse to test Frida. It’s definitely not what I would describe as a “sweet pancake” since it has such a thick, custard-y batter and baked flan-like texture. It was a simple recipe with common ingredients that would no doubt be extremely difficult to acquire in Frida’s reality. I felt a little guilty that I still had the luxury of baking a dessert like this when she ordinarily could not. Surprisingly, baked cherries taste no different than the cherries that come in canned pie filling (do not like…). Pretty sure that I’m going to avoid baking cherries from now on. However, it was very light dessert, despite it’s heavy appearance.
The clafoutis was an analogy for how I felt about the middle chapters of California. I was expecting something heavier, more menacing in these chapters, but was presented with a more day-in-the-life view of the settlers of the Land. Cal was definitely justified in his growing paranoia, especially with bits of Micah’s crazy popping up every so often like the unexpected taste of baked cherries for me in each bite. I also wondered if the reason why Anika didn’t have cherries was because of her/their fear of the color red, or if it was actually due to a lack of supply.
The idea of the clafoutis and the flavors I was expecting of it was much like how the ideals and practices of the Plankers played out in the Land. A little lackluster, disappointing. It looked pretty, but didn’t have the substance I was looking for. To quote another reblogbookclubber: “While [the] seminar is a very powerful method of learning and dealing with texts, there is also the danger of only living in hypotheticals.” In theory, it sounds like it would be great! In practice, not so much.
To celebrate its centennial, the Club has mounted a traveling exhibition, “Pressing Forward: The Book Club of California at 100,” currently on display in its San Francisco headquarters. The exhibit is scheduled to be shown at the Claremont Colleges Library in January.
“The night they met, she had asked, ‘You know why they don’t say 'men and children first?’. He said he didn’t. 'Because that would be redundant,’ she replied.”
I like that Frida is complex, and I think we all are. I’m a feminist and I also really love cooking for those that I love. I think sometimes complexity and individual interests/inclinations/sort-of-lost-for-a-word-here get lost in our conversations around gender and relationship dynamics.
This is mostly just a note to say that I’m really looking forward to the conversations we are going to have about their relationship.