How is it that time can seem to go so slowly and yet at the same time speed by faster than I can understand? I’ve been meaning to write this blog for months! Yet here I am and almost two months have passed since I wrote the review for A Tale of Two Cities. I made the meal for it weeks ago, and still haven’t written it… and the food part is the easiest part! I blame it on my current situation, in which I seem to be sub-leasing a rut with indefinable borders and a vague termination date. I have been so unmotivated lately. All I want to do is sleep or do things like watch marathons of Netflix shows. I need to stop worrying about things I can’t control, stop fretting that so much of my time is spent doing things I don’t enjoy and make time for the things I do, like this blog. If I’ve learned anything in the past 25 years, it’s that I always get out of the ruts I find myself in, after a time.
I originally wanted to do the meal for this book on July 13th, Bastille Day, but I couldn’t think of what to make. It is difficult to do a food portion on a book whose focus is very much on poverty and the lack of food. In my bibliocentric sense of justice, I couldn’t reconcile the story with my desire to eat escargot and moules mariniéres. So instead I stuck to the story. Since the story takes place in both Paris and London, I thought I’d have representatives of both cuisines. London provided the main course: an adaptation of the mutton pies that were being hawked during Darnay’s trial for espionage at the beginning of the book, as if it were a fair or celebration. That’s one thing I’ve never understood about my species: the ability to be entertained by the suffering of one of their own, in this case the unfair trial and possible execution of an innocent man. But that’s a topic for another day. For the pie, I used a recipe from a blog called Righteous Bacon, although this was a lamb pie instead of mutton. The only other time I’ve ever cooked lamb is for The Corrections dinner, but I have found it to be a difficult meat to work with, as it can easily be overcooked. It was also my first meat pie, and I think more practice is definitely in order. In the end, it tasted good, but the crust was a little undercooked and the lamb a little overdone. The guinness gave it a nice flavor and the beautiful vegetables I got from Good Eggs* were nice and crunchy. The dough was from a bakery called Three Babes Bakeshop.
To represent Paris, there was an abundance of fresh French bread and wine.
I know, my pictures this time are pretty dark. I really need to take another photography class. Also, it’s really hard to simultaneously cook and take passable pictures of your cooking. Maybe I should “hire” (which means of course, pay in food) someone to take pictures while I cook. That would be a dream.
I also need to invest in a pie dish, since I think the round metal cylinder thing did not flatter my pie, and it needed some flattering. For dessert, I took some artistic liberties. The only sweetness in the whole book is the hot chocolate that Monseigneur indulges in which, while it is a great little scene, did not make me want to do as the aristocrats did. This following quote will show you just how decadent the rich were in the book and just how sarcastic Dickens was in his representation of them.
“It was impossible for Monseigneur to dispense with one of these attendants on the chocolate and hold his high place under the admiring Heavens. Deep would have been the blot upon his escutcheon if his chocolate had been ignobly waited on by only three men; he must have died of two” (128).
So in order to distance myself from the selfish wantonness of Monseigneur, I decided to make a strawberry shortcake. Specifically French? Not so much. But, I added blueberries to make it a tricolour dessert matching the French flag and the symbol of the revolution. I found it to be very fitting… and tasty.
All in all, it was a good dinner and I hope to continue doing this blog for as long as I enjoy doing it and you enjoy reading it, emotional ruts be damned. Next up, from revolutionary France to Napoleon’s reign, Jeannette Winterson’s The Passion.
*Good Eggs is this wonderful site where you can order produce and other goodies from local businesses and farms, and everything in season. They deliver for a very reasonable fee or you can pick it up at varying locations throughout the week. I highly recommend it! Never before have I found myself window shopping for food!