I have been thinking about habitual meals. Characteristic foods that you can expect to share with persons or places. They are reminiscient and they are rhythmic, these meals – marks of your history together and reassuring constants in your relationship. We build little custom culinary habits with each person with whom we share meals regularly, habits that address the way our food is prepared and by whom, the way we serve it, the way we talk about it. There are certain things that are best experienced with a particular person, and I often save them for the right situation, or construct one and ask them to step into it. Or things you only eat in a certain person’s kitchen.
I can’t even think about how to begin to share my long long list of reminisciences and recipes. As soon as I open my mind’s catalogue, the routes to those memories split and sidetrack and they scatter about. I could make that a feature here, write about it once a fortnight, once a week, and then maybe hope to wrangle some of those experiences. But there are a couple of them which brought this whole topic to mind – ones I have pictures to illustrate – so I’ll start there.
full lesbian breakfast (imperial), with tomato relish
Lesbian breakfast. A loosely-structured morning meal based around pieces. Geographically and seasonally variable, made by and / or eaten in the presence of lesbians (and their allies). I trace this back to some Los Angelina femme friends, who are some of the classiest, most interesting (if occasionally over-the-top, but as I said, Los Angelina) eaters I know. A few of us shared some turning-point food-politicizations, and so my adult food life began in their presence.
Lesbian breakfast is built around, but does not always include, these items:
fried fake meat
a fried egg
fresh tomatoes on toast with flaked salt and coarse pepper
Earth Balance and / or Veganaise (both unavailable in the southern hemisphere)
plunger coffee with milk, orange juice, or black tea
One of the pleasures of lesbian breakfast is the agency it offers. The fluidity of components and ingredients. Its subjectivity to whimsy, and to leftovers from last night’s dinner, from which the hash was made. During my time with the founding madres of this dish, it was often consumed 1) stoned, and / or 2) alongside planning of the day’s activities. I don’t really know what lesbian breakfast is doing over there now, but I have come to adapt it for my more antipodean tastes and ingredient options. The image above makes use of baked beans (Eden Organic, with sorghum and mustard, from the tin mentioned below) and derives from both English and Lesbian traditional breakfasts – perhaps even equally. Which, for me, invoked the thought experient of ‘full lez’ versus ‘half lez’. Also, I should admit that I ended up swapping the artisinal tomato relish from that really nervous lady at the farmers’ market for sweet and vinegary tomato sauce.
Since I left the company of los angelinas, I tend to consume lesbian breakfast alone. A few housemates know it by name and note its presence when they see it, and perhaps I just haven’t been as much of an ambassador for the dish as I could be. But then I suppose you’d also have to wake up within a certain meterage of my kitschen to partake…and that’s all I have to say about that.
flavours of the farm
Flavours of the Farm. This, too, is a meal concept, but the ingredients are a little more constant and the variability is pretty much seasonal. I’ve been eating this on my farm visits for as long as I can remember them being habitual, though I’m not sure when the dish was formally named. It’s a simple Thai-style soup, its flavours fuelled by the abundant availability of lime leaves and lemongrass, and the eager consumtion of coconut products by inhabitants of the region (today I saw my first tub of coconut yoghurt in the grocery store).
There’s a basic list of ingredients, and you pretty much just put ’em in a pot and cook ’em. Vee makes a spice paste of the alliums and aromatics and fries it off first, then the liquids and simmer simmer simmer. This is a slow meal – you want the herbs to infuse, so you let that sit for as long as you can bear it.
lemon juice & zest
seasonal veggies, mostly green and orange in colour
tofu, sometimes chicken
rice noodles (at the very end)
This meal is fresh, it’s warming, it makes use of the things that grow on the property, and it can feed a lot of folks for a little bit of money, which feels safe and accessible. And it’s got mileage as leftovers, which is important in a place where ‘snacks’ are not constantly stocked and the fridge is not really for extended stays. If you want it to be light, it can be light, and if it’s the middle of winter and you wanna get really full so that your body produces a bunch of heat doing the work of digesting it all, you can do that. It’s a regular feature of farmfoodlife. You do that, and then you do something really extravagant like a roast for 8, just to keep things balanced.
Now of course this matter of giving some thought to one’s feasting habits, rituals, and inter-courses is obviously has bredth and depth, and maybe some of those ways-of-eating need some re-figuring from time to time. The point, for me, is to draw attention to the ways in which food is brought into – or a foundation for – a relationship, and to really know who I’m eating with and how we’re doing it. Perhaps that will bring a little more presence into those interactions. I’d love to hear some of your own habits of feasting with your folks.