Let us all appreciate how amazing Sophie Dahl really is.
Just made a big pot of the chicken soup, but used chicken thighs, uncooked straight in the pot, and sage instead of parsley I used sage. It tastes amazing! Can’t wait to serve it up for Sunday lunch at my Grandparents.
Also I must make that rice pudding soon! I can imagine the smells and I think I’ve lived without it for long enough.
My Aunt Wendy is a poet and a private investigator. When I was young, our time together mostly consisted of giggling loudly and uncontrollably in completely inappropriate places: staid country club lounges in South Bend, Indiana, formal dinner parties, otherwise stilted family reunion picture-taking sessions. We share an eye and an ear for the absurd that simultaneously unites the two of us and ostracizes us from everyone else: Our hilarity lived inside a world of its own, giddy, confinement.
As I grew older, hilarity came less frequently. Instead, we both sat with death, as Wendy was with my father and me in the days before and the evening of my mother’s death. That night, a full moon, we bore witness to the only thing more absurd than all the rest of our silly lives: Life’s dissolution, the passing of breath into nothingness. Even after the dying, though, we laughed. Living, even—or especially—after death, was still ridiculously strange.
This summer, from the verdant homestead she and her partner Rod tend in the tiny town of Sooke on Vancouver Island, she called with a poem for my birthday. The call started with a recipe, though.
We drove up from New York, past the river, past the old neighborhoods that used to be rich, past the forests. We drove to Massachusetts, a car full of strangers eating yogurt-covered snacks and sharing leftover potato salad. We got to Amherst early, we dawdled at CVS, we discovered the field of wild flowers next to the freshman quads at Hampshire. We remembered the weird plastic croak of the twin XL mattress. We remembered we were there to be together.
Every morning for one week, nineteen writers and I gathered in a morning-lit room of the Yiddish Book Center under the (dry-humored, huge-hearted, brilliant) tutelage of Josh Lambert, for TENT. We argued. We discussed Jewishness. We cried. We snapped. We tousled with the idea of a collective identity, a culture, a we. We ate absurd amounts of cafeteria food. I discovered a microwave and immediately made communal nachos. I picked wildflowers, ate the bud of an ox eye daisy, kept lupine in my dorm room.
Read more and get the recipe, adapted from a book of Emily Dickinson’s recipes, here!
Solas does not, contrary to popular belief, subsist on a diet of greens and pummeled vinaigrettes. There is food in the fade, but it does not nourish. It tickles the tongue, like the wisp of a memory, as if smell and sight alone conjure something, stir something where your body sleeps. Solas has tasted the devil’s cut from dwarven ales. He’s sipped at the honeyed syrup that rashvine, handled just so, will pour out into a pot. The contents of cookfire pans, and the braised meat of a phoenix both melt like a pat of butter on his tongue. Something as plain as a lilted flop of spinach does very little after that.
Dwarven food is a bit too savory, a bit too salty, and the water a little too murky of minerals. Ale is nice, a good winter wine is better. Kirkwall is generous in oddball delicacies. Blondie wasn’t a fan of the cat kebabs in lowtown, even though they were delicious. All minced garlic and soft, steamed carrots. They always whisked them through a sauce of mayonnaise, buttercream, and ferment. And on muggy mornings in the market : Egg yolk, runny, turned over in hot noodles ; Fat, fried dumplings, filled with cubed ramps and bok choy ; Best lunch the city had to offer by far, with small cups of sauce to dip, and vinegar to drink.
Vivienne de Fer
Orlesian plums are a common fruit, the lowest hanging, truly. They are quick to bruise, turn over-sweet, and their skin tends to shrivel and crawl away from their own pulp. Vivienne adores them. Plum jams on toast. Plums reduced to bitter compotes and spooned over seared fish. She takes her sweet tea with a slice of dried fruit. When the cheap and delicate spoil is not in supply, peaches play a beautiful substitute. Here and there, she and The Iron Bull collaborate, mixing the peaches or plums with banana slices, turning them over in gooey oats. He eats what she does not, which is to say, nearly all of it.
A child raised on gruel and little more than washy wheat, that’s Cullen. But Mia, oh she made something magical. She’d spent a summer away, parading in softer fields than Honnleath offered. She had came back with baskets of groceries on both her arms. In their tiny home, they watched as she made a soft dough in her fingers, as she spun and smoothed it out into long, roping cords. Branson stole pieces off the ends and shoved them into his cheeks. Mia patted the rolls of dough with cinnamon, with a caramel sugar, and with cubes of sweet butter. She sliced them with Cullen’s knife, the one the knight-captain had tucked into his hands. Branson played at helping her roll them up, all snug, but snuck more bits of the sugared dough, and got them shooed from the house for it. Rosalie had whined and whimpered the whole time, kicking at their ankles, but some time later, when they came peeping over the window wall, the pinwheel buns sat steaming. Mia had packed them with hats of pecans and drizzled them in butter. Food like magic, still soft and sticky on his teeth then.
Her mother used to make her a long grain rice, tossed together with tomatoes, peppers, spice like turmeric and mustard, coriander when it was packeted in the markets. Poppa would burn chicken for her on hot, slatted stones till it was a blackened patty, and sweeten it with limes and the pucker of vinegar. Leliana showed her the magic of a grilled slice of pineapple, dripping wet with sugar. That slipped through her like ambrosia, and always curled her belly up in warmth.
All she’s eaten, she remembers the faces with it- the spindling lies with it. Candy floss and the affair of a queen with her adopted brother. Stuffed artichokes and a magister killing his stableboy, his bedroom plaything. She shared elfroot tea cakes with Josie, and chaste kisses too far from the cheeks and too close to the lips between. Many divine sisters enjoyed sesame sticks from a tin with her, and told her of the prettiest templars. She sang songs to the warden, a rabbit, flesh peeling from its bones, spinning on the spit between them, and the foam of Oghren’s ale splashing in her hair.