“Riggs, I’m too old for this shit.” is what I should have told myself before staying up past midnight every night last week to read (p.s. if you didn’t catch it right there, I’m a huge fan of the Lethal Weapon series and How I Met Your Mother). It’s not that I’m too old but I’m totally feeling my age especially since the last of my toddler’s molars started to emerge making our wake-time 4 a.m. Maybe there is someone out there who, even though children are a priority, makes time to read (even if it means being a little tired the next day)? Slowly, I am realizing that I can’t keep up this rock-n-roll-reading-lifestyle and will have to find time to read some other time. Always late to the party I found out about Bon Appetempt from a friend who raved about it and I knew I’d enjoy it because I love this new genre of foodie memoir — some of my favourites being Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton and A Homemade Life and Delancy both by Molly Wizenberg. For those unfamiliar with these types of books they’re usually organized in a very useful way — chapters followed up by a recipe related to the theme of that chapter. Sometimes the recipes are original, sometimes they’re from other sources but more often than not they’re delicious. It should be noted that all of these authors have enormously popular blogs, and me being a tad oblivious only discovered them after reading their books. “Better late than never to a party” is what I say!
I think what I enjoyed best about Bon Appetempt is that the author, Amelia Morris, is genuine. Reading her book was like listening to an old friend over coffee — she never presents her life as anything other than authentic (even though I don’t like this word, I can’t think of another way to put it). But I suppose that her blog and book is all about attempting and being confident enough that the journey is more important than the end results (which can often lead to very humorous situations). Since reading her book I’ve started to read her blog and I think one of the reasons I can relate to her is the fact that when I started Instagramming it was all about my attempts to recreate the recipes of others. TBH, I haven’t really posted any pictures of the “fails” but tbh I don’t have that many (I do not say this in a conceited or smug way, it’s just that groceries are so costly I only attempt recipes that I’m sure will turn out. Maybe I lack daring, idk. There was one time, here, that I realized that not everything should be spirialized and, yes, “normal” waffles are just fine as they are).
Just recently I came across a small article (maybe on My Modern Met??) about a site that (humorously? I think…) mirrors Humans of NY, except this one is focused on the millennials of NY (after writing this I checked back and found the link). There was one entry that keeps sticking in my mind — a picture of a girl and some festival/concert passes who admits to buying these passes only to IG them then sell them. A kind of FOMO that I think leads to something dishonest. Often times on social media there is a fear that if life is presented as it is then you can’t be popular or people won’t like you. A numbers game where all of the #L4L and #F4F fits in too. I thought about this when Morris quoted Paris to the Moon — that “Life is mostly lived by timid bodies at home…” — and as she does, I keep thinking about what this means in terms of how we present ourselves and how we live our lives. This quote also makes me think back to school days when one of my teachers, who was fixated on Virginia Woolf, kept coming back to a quote of Woolf’s: “The inner life has its soft and gentle beauty.” The life at home — that “inner life” — seems more interesting and sacred even at times we feel it’s a bit boring or perceived to be mundane. I don’t think anyone reads a memoir for any other reason than to understand another’s human experience. I appreciate how honestly Morris presents her life — with emotion and a clever wit.
It’s funny, I started reading Bon Appetempt before bed because the book I had been reading — Eleanor & Park — was getting me down a bit. The neglect of the children in Eleanor’s family was more than I could bear so I switched. Even though through 99% of BA I was ok, the last twenty pages Morris’ life happens in the unexpected way life usually does and I sat there feeling pretty emotional wondering (again) why I’m reading before bed (when I think it will relax me before sleep although it never does). But in the end, I kept coming back to her recipes and things she mentioned — and isn’t this the mark of a good book? Something that sticks with you in the days (weeks, months,…) after you’ve read it? Since I picked up a library copy I’m going to get myself to the bookstore in order to get my own copy.
As an aside, one of the recipes she gives — Rice and Black Beans in Coconut Milk** w/ Avocado — has become an instant family favourite (also perfect if you’ve taken the “Pulse Pledge” — it is the International Year of Pulses you know!). So in two weeks I’ve now made this recipe twice. In all honesty I usually can’t cook rice to save my life (despite this being my husband’s favourite thing) and on that evening I first made it, he was expecting veggie burgers and homemade fries (having read about this recipe the night before I couldn’t get it out of my head, so an executive decision was made) . There was a bit of whinging beforehand but during the meal he kept telling me that it was “such a great meal” and that he “was glad we weren’t having burgers and fries!” So there you have it. I have yet to try any of the other recipes — aside from the toasted Cheerios (my toddler was in heaven as soon as she had this treat!) — but I look forward to giving a few more a try.
The nice thing about finishing a book that you had no idea that a blog existed for, is that you have somewhere to go when that book is finished. And like her book, her blog doesn’t disappoint.
** Morris suggests using full fat coconut milk — a change she wishes she made before the book was printed. I can say that I’ve had it both ways and it’ll taste devine either way.