Justin Cascio blogs about social issues, gender issues, and food. He has a knack for finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. I love the way he talks about his dining table in this piece and if I ever find myself in Northampton, Massachussetts, I plan to wrangle myself a dinner invitation. Check out his Blogger Space below.
I blog at the end of a long dining room table that’s about a hundred years old.
It used to belong to a church. We bought it through a relative of a friend who deals in antiques. The top flips up and it becomes a bench, but we mostly try not to flip it. One or more of the pegs that are supposed to hold it steady are missing, and I keep forgetting that every time we talk about it, Kevin and I. I say that it’s a simple matter to go get some dowels cut to the right length. I even volunteer to do it. Now I’m going to write it down on my notepad so I will. I get anxious that I will forget things I have to do, while my mind is busy churning the deeper subjects I write about in my personal blogs and on The Good Men Project.
I’m a list-keeper. Shopping lists, which get complicated by wildcards like the farm share and the several places I regularly shop, including weekly farmer’s markets. Household chores. Writing deadlines. I keep a spiral notebook for weight lifting, and one for recipes that I’m tweaking.
I do most of my actual writing in “the cloud”: Google Documents, on my laptop, at the dining room table. We bought the table because we needed a dining room table, and our friend delivered it to us in his van. The table, which I’ve already described as rickety and old, is also just a little bit dirty, and the cats come up on it and we have to chase them off again. But it’s long and comfortably seats two people who at least occasionally work at home, who want to just move over one seat and move from office to home. We close the lids on our laptops, pour wine, have dinner, converse with each other, converse with visiting friends, and then we take our glasses and slide back into our offices or dens. Sometimes, with our headphones on, it’s easier to chat online, and other times we just need to be able to touch or make eye contact over the dining room table.
My house is nearly devoid of furniture or decoration. It has some books in it, and some animals. The only room I feel pride in is the kitchen. If there are unwashed dishes, or spatters on the stove, I feel like I haven’t showered. One time, a guest who worked as a cook in a trendy place downtown expressed admiration for my iron skillets, and I couldn’t have been more proud. Most of the time, I find it very hard to accept a compliment.
I have several blogs and sites where I regularly contribute, and I send most via RSS to Open Salon. Two of my blogs are about food. Justin Wants to Feed You is a locavore blog and home cooking resource based on what’s seasonally available in western Massachusetts. My husband and I live in Northampton, a picturesque New England college town, in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts. We came here for the unique combination of progressive social values and community support of local agriculture, and the particular sweet spot of living in a trendy town in a farming valley. I write about what I make for us and our friends, my practices for keeping good food around, how I prepare the local meat and produce, and where I get it. I write as I’m cooking, so if you follow along, you’ll never hear me telling you to use a fresh tomato in January, or to bother with creamy bisque in July.
I lived for a time in Florida, and came back here because the subtropics felt almost static, even stagnant, compared to the seasons I grew up with in New York. Every single season in this part of the country has beauty that can stop me in my tracks. Every one. I can curse the cold and dark like any New Englander, but I’m grateful for the cycle, and the homely ways we have of making do. We really are what we eat, so planning and caring deeply about what I eat and feed my loved ones is a meaningful practice for me. Whether you talk about it as a mitzvah or feeding your karma or practicing good magick, we are all talking about the transcendental, supra-material value that food has. I believe that the health of every participant in my food chain is translated into the nourishment I receive from what I eat. It’s something I have in common with other people who cook for themselves and care what they eat, and it’s not something I can get out of a bag or box of commercially prepared food. (And that’s what I rave about on my other food blog, Tin Foil Toque.)
So in a way, although I wouldn’t mind having a desk again, and even a door that closed, it’s fitting that I blog at the dining room table. It’s where I feed people.
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