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Manolo for the Big Girl | Archive | May, 2008
Archive - May, 2008

In Which We Learn That Twistie Is Incapable of Reading a Calendar

Last week I declared the final entry in Food Friendly May…and today I did a facepalm as I realized that it’s still May for one more day. I are not bright.

On the other hand, I am nothing if not capable of coming up with another recipe. In honor of my inability to keep up with modern life (not to mention my history geekness), I have decided that it would be fun today to post a recipe from back through the mists of time along with a modern version. I found this recipe – and a great many others equally interesting…though some are certainly more appetizing to a modern taste than others – at this fabulous site. If you are fond of historical re-enactment, interested in the history of food, or just a sucker for a good recipe, I highly recommend spending some time there.

Spynoches yfryed (Fried Spinach)

Period: English, 14th Century

Original Receipt:

Spynoches yfryed. Take spynoches; perboile hem in seþyng water. Take hem vp and presse out þe water and hew hem in two. Frye hem in oile & do þerto powder douce, & serue forth.

Gode Cookery Translation:

Take spinach; parboil them in boiling water. Take them up and press out the water and hew them in two. Fry them in oil & do there-to powder douce, & serve forth.

Of course, that tells you what the words mean if you’re not fluent in Middle English, but it doesn’t really tell you what to do as a modern cook, does it? Luckily, there are instructions on dishing it up in today’s kitchen, as well.

Ingredients:

Fresh Spinach Leaves

Olive Oil

Powder Douce (this was a Medieval blend of sweet spices, almost always containing sugar and cinnamon, but never pepper, and with such other spices as nutmeg, clove, cardamon, mace, etc.)

Directions:

Parboil the spinach, keeping in mind that this means to partially cook by boiling. Remove the leaves from the water; drain well and press out the water. Cut the spinach leaves in half; fry in hot olive oil. Remove from oil & drain. Place in serving dish and sprinkle on powder douce to season. Serve it forth!

Alas! the translators have chosen not to put amounts of the ingredients in the modern recipe, so that means we’ll have to experiment, doesn’t it? Oh, and one safety tip: dry the spinach well before putting it in hot oil. Cool water + hot oil = oil bullets zinging around your kitchen and hurting you painfully. This might be a good time to pull out the old Salad Spinner.

And that, my friends, is the end of Food Friendly May here at Manolo for the Big Girl. I hope you’ve all enjoyed it as much as I have.

Some Friday Advice from Plumcake

The trouble with telling people that you write about fashion is that people automatically ask you what you think about their outfits, and that can end in heartache, and by “heartache” naturally I mean “an entire weekend spent with twelve ounces of the finest porterhouse strapped on your recently rearranged face.”

Do not, under any circumstance heed the old chestnut “unless you have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all” for this will end in heartache as well.  Not saying anything when confronted by a big girl who –from the tip of her Bjork mini-bunned head to the bottom of her  beskulled stirrup-panted feet– is the hottest hot mess in the tri-county area will always fail.

Would that I had listened to my own advice. Thankfully, I escaped what our friend Billy S.  refers to as a “predestinate scratched face”  but not by much.

Which brings me to my second point: unless you are currently straddling a horse, stirrup pants = no.

Until a few days ago, had you bet me cash money that you could go into a store and emerge with a pair of stirrup pants I would have taken your bet and planned all sorts of vainglorious and complicated victory dances plus an array of remarks involving “your mom” to be performed upon my certain triumph.

Yet somehow they are making a resurgence. Who? Who are these people? Do they not know what pants are? Did my 5th grade closet become some sort of sacred shrine without me knowing? And most importantly, if stirrup pants are back, how far away can we possibly be from puffpaint sweatshirts, multiple Swatches and, God help me, butt bows?

The lip, she quivers.

The Big Question: Stretch Your Lexicon, Ladies

A friend of mine, Lex, is a singular sort of genius. She comes up with THE most magnificent, baroque and hair-burningly vulgar invectives that my porcelain cheeks have ever had the good fortune to blush upon reading.  Since my life is devoid of anyone who really needs a good whopper I open the question to you:

 Plumcake and Francesca want to know:

 What is the best/most creative name you have every called (or thought to call) someone? Please keep the profanities to a minimum ladies, they’re too easy.

Francesca recommends books

Yesterday’s post about the nature of art got Francesca thinking about creative expression, and she has books to recommend on the topic:

Francesca owns a copy of the National Geographic Photography Field Guide, and finds it a helpful resource with tips for creating more powerful photographs. She sees that they have now created more specified books, on subjects such as photographing People and Portraits, Your Family, Travel, Birds, Action/Adventure , and Landscapes. They also have volumes on digital photography and digital black & white photography. Francesca says: Have fun!

Writing Poems by Robert Wallace is a beautiful, inspiring hybrid of “textbook” and “powerful prose.” The book explains the difference between blank verse and free verse, between a villanelle and a sestina, between a Shakespearean sonnet and an Italian sonnet. It also contains poems which have become Francesca’s favorites, such as “Sentimental Poem” by Marge Piercy (written 1978), which expresses the sensuality of the Big Girl, though it pretends to do otherwise:

You are such a good cook.

I am such a good cook.

If we get involved

we’ll both get fat.

Then nobody else will have us.

We’ll be stuck, two

mounds of wet dough

baking high and fine

in the bed’s slow oven. 

Happy reading!

A Secret for the Size 14/16 Girls

Psssst . . . Francesca has a secret.

Igigi sells clothing that start at size 14/16. But many girls of this size do not know about the plus-size fancy clothing vendors. So the “final clearance” section of Igigi is chock full of beautiful clothes in sizes 14/16, at dramatically reduced prices. Look:

“Magical Dress” in four colors, down 65 percent — now just $61!

Linen jacket, available in sizes 14, 20, and 24-30, now 70 percent off, at just $26.

“Shimmering Dress” in “Liquid Gold” or Silver. Now just $55! 65 percent off!

Happy shopping,

xoxo, Francesca

Mmm Mmm Macy’s

Macys.com is having their Memorial Day sale, and many quality plus-size items can be had at discount, in limited sizes. It is worth the search for your size and style.

Calvin Klein pleated-front silk top, $19.99, in size 22W.

Cotton/Spandex pants with satin trim, $11.99, in sizes 16W-24W.

Silk skirt by Ralph Lauren, $54.99, in sizes 1X, 2X, and 3X.

See all the plus-size sale items here.

Happy shopping – and please, also, take a moment to remember and honor America’s fallen soldiers.

xoxo, Francesca

Very Un-Fat Girls in . . . Is it Art? Or just a disturbing brew of images?

Francesca notes this interesting, albeit somewhat disturbing, article about “thinspiration” videos at yesterday’s New York Times magazine:

You don’t have to search very hard to find the excruciating online videos known as thinspiration, or thinspo. Photomontages of skeletal women, including some celebrities and models, play all over the Internet, uploaded from the United States, Germany, Holland and elsewhere. These videos are designed to “inspire” viewers — to fortify their ambitions. But exactly which ambitions? To lose weight, presumably. To stop losing weight, possibly. Thinspo videos profess a range of ideologies, often pressing morbid images into double service, as both goads and deterrents to anorexia.

::snip::

Setting aside the mystifying proposition that anorexia be seen as a lifestyle choice (as some extremist pro-anorexia sites maintain), as well as the age-old riddle of whether popular culture can produce mental illness, what seems most significant about the thinspiration videos is that they’re not propaganda or even entertainment, but an effort, however misguided, at art. One thinspiration filmmaker whose YouTube screen name is “hungryhell,” and who spoke on condition of anonymity to keep her struggles with bulimia private from people who know her, emphasized to me in an e-mail message that her work “represents what I have been feeling at that time in particular.” She added, “The songs I use . . . say exactly what I need to but can’t figure out how.”

According to the article, “thinspo” videos come with little or no commentary, and therefore are hard to classify. Francesca agrees with the reporter that they seem to be less a form of “thin is in” propoganda and should be considered more as works of (not necessarily good) art — in the sense that they are a means of creative expression, the result of a (probably disturbed) person’s compulsion to produce something out of photos, video, and music which represents his or her inner turmoil. And like any art, it may be seen as ridiculous or meaningless or moving or disturbing or infuriating. And the more one feels an emotional reaction upon watching it, the more it is a powerful piece of art – as infuriating as it may be.

There is much in the article which we could explicate here, but Francesca will say just one, and leave the rest for you good folks to discuss in the comments:

There are so many, many ways in this world that a person can be in pain. So many ways to destroy oneself. And so much strangeness! What the internet has done is to give more people new ways to share their pain — or whatever it is — with the rest of the world. And it has given us a new window into other people’s mental goings-on. Sometimes what we see is perplexing, or puzzling, or ambiguous. This doesn’t make it new, and it doesn’t make it politically important. It’s just an interesting fact about humanity, that sometimes we produce strange and perplexing things. People were creating disturbing works long before the internet, and long before thinness became an ideal. Just, their works were stored in the attic and no one ever saw them, unless they were Sylvia Plath.

Yet Francesca is intrigued by this question, which the Times reporter has “set aside”: “the age-old riddle of whether popular culture can produce mental illness.”

Indeed, would the makers of thinspiration videos be as obsessed with thin bodies if popular culture did not value thinness so much? If there was no internet for them to post videos on? Are more people troubled because of our society’s mixed messages, or is it the same percentage of people, but they have newer and creative ways (such as anorexia) of manifesting their sickness? Francesca will leave it to you to discuss.

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