Tag Archives: salmon

Reading The Oven Bird: Watermelon, Feta, Chorizo Salad

There is a singer everyone has heard,
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.

Lately, I have been reading Nicholson Baker to excess. I first heard about Mr. Baker from a New York Times Magazine article—”Nicholson Baker: The Mad Scientist of Smut.” House of Holes, Mr. Baker’s most recent work of erotic fiction, just hit bookshelves. Besides his “miniaturist” style—expanding fragments of plot into absurdly dense treatises on everyday minutiae like the comma (Room Temperature) and shoelaces (The Mezzanine)—Mr. Baker is famous for erotica. In Vox, The Fermata, and now House of Holes, Mr. Baker explores the literary limits of sex writing. In my final two weeks before the fall semester, I have indulged in some “pleasure” reading, albeit of a non-prurient variety. Not to worry, I’ve been keeping my mind out of Mr. Baker’s dirty dollhouse.  Intrigued by the prospect of miniaturism—maximalist, but munchkin!—I bought Room Temperature and The Mezzanine at a Borders blowout sale. Unlike David Foster Wallace, Thomas Pynchon, and Don DeLillo, Mr. Baker is one postmodernist who has escaped academic celebrity. Search Jstor for journal articles on Mr. Baker’s novels, I dare you: few and far-between results. As Charles McGrath notes in that NYT Mag piece, Mr. Baker pioneered the footnoted, wry academicism David Foster Wallace made thesis-worthy. Where DFW used the footnote as a vehicle for formal digression and neatly organized scholarship, Mr. Baker trips towards James Joyce the Nebbish, allowing that cavern beneath the big print to plunge into the narrator’s wandering consciousness. In his most boring moments—and there are many to choose from in The Mezzanine (a representative sentence: “Let me mention another fairly important development in the history of the straw.”)—Mr. Baker reaches the zenith of postmodern irony. His contemporaries stoop, humbled, to tie his broken shoelaces (a problem solved, we are informed, by Z. Czaplicki in “Methods for evaluating the abrasion resistance and knot slippage strength of shoe laces.”). The less patient author bows, awed, before this perfect distillation of post-Fordist ambiguity. Do we love the mechanical mundanities of corporate America—is there a phrasing of the epic in escalators and Popular Science? Or is the frayed fascination of Mr. Baker’s protagonists with the plastic drinking straw funny because it reads as pathetic and picaresque?

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Filed under Recipes, Theory and Criticism

Cooking with Cast Iron: Salmon, Young Garlic, Yellow Oyster Mushrooms, M’smen

In my closet, I keep a cast iron pan, a Dutch oven, a Pyrex baking dish, a spatula, and a spoon. I have easy access to a kitchen this summer, and I intend to use it. My cooking implements, which will hopefully last through the next year, cost $80—I brought my knives with me from home. Stocking my pantry was similarly simple: olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, brown sugar, kosher salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and ancho chilies. Ironically, now that I have a kitchen there’s no fridge in sight. Perishables must be procured within a short window of opportunity. With that list of basic ingredients and a willingness to brave Westside Market’s crowded aisles, I should be able to cook most of my repertoire. Continue reading

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Filed under College Life, Columbia University, New York City, Recipes

Mediterra Brings Mediterranean Flair to Tiger Town

Marc P., Princeton University

The town of Princeton, New Jersey occupies a sort of no man’s land equidistant from Philadelphia and New York, and seems to have painstakingly isolated itself from the Jersey of Snooki and JWoww. That is to say that the Orange Bubble, as Princeton students call it, enjoys (or suffers) a relative dearth of fast-food and chain restaurants, aside from the painfully ubiquitous Starbucks and Panera just across from the north end of campus. Nevertheless, the town offers a wide variety of restaurants and cuisines ranging from the Hoagie Haven’s calorie bombs to the universally praised fare at Elements.

But for today, we’ll take a look at Mediterra, just down the road from the Bent Spoon, which offers a tasty, upscale take on classic Mediterranean food. Continue reading

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Filed under Dining Suggestions, Marc P., Princeton University, Restaurants

The Decisive Moment

Although Henri Cartier- Bresson died in 2004, his impact on modern photography has been incalculable. To Bresson, photography was intuitive and inherently creative- the “decisive moment” expressed the essential meaning of an event or action. To Bresson, photography was “putting one’s head, one’s eye, and one’s heart on the same axis.”

As I have become more and more involved with photography, I have realized that another still life of well-lighted fruit is all well and good, but engaging photography should include the decisive moment. Sure, one might look at an image of a beautifully iced carrot cake and say, “Wow, doesn’t that look delicious!” Yet, that person has not truly engaged with the image, they have merely paid it a passing glance. Continue reading

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Filed under Miscellaneous, The Ocular Omnivore