Friday, February 27, 2009

Food for Thought: Bite Me

Dude! What? Bite you?

This month's Food for Thought book group selection was "Bite Me: Food in Popular Culture" by Fabio Parasecoli.

I find myself struggling to describe this book. It sort of feels like a bad boyfriend. Incredibly frustrating at times, then he's nice to you for a while and you think he's not so bad. I'm not quite sure how this relationship will end since I'm not done with the book. Now that I'm older, I'm not so willing to make time for bad boyfriends and difficult books. (Not that I actually have a boyfriend, since I'm married and all, but you know what I mean.)

This book started out reading like a senior level college textbook and I'm thinking "what the... ? Did I wake up back in college, except now I'm in some sort of food-related major?" It seemed like the author was trying to pack as many ideas into every sentence of the Introduction as humanly possible. I had to reread quite a few of the sentences, leaving me feeling like some sort of drugged out flunky. Here's an example sentence, where the author is trying to explain his definition of "Pop Culture":

"Received ideas about what culture is have deeply altered, following the counterculture movements of the 1960s and 1970s, the crisis of the project of modernity that hinged on the ideal of progress and often coincided with the goals of Western white males, the end of the old-style Cold War and the crisis of the traditional political ideologies, the beginning of new cultural wars (including the so-called "War on Terror"), the crisis of the post-colonial model of international relations, the complex and ever-shifting dialectics between globalization, national boundaries, and empire, and many other factors that go beyond the scope of this book".

That was one sentence, people! If you took all of that in on the first pass, please tell me. I will forever consider you a brainiac.

I skipped half of the Introduction and I also didn't make it all of the way through Chapter 1. They were just too heavy.

Chapter 2 was titled "Of Breasts and Beasts". OK. Interesting. We're now reading about breast feeding, cannibalism, and vampires... and (get this) how they're related. This chapter was an easier read, but the subject matter was well, mind boggling. I suppose I can accept that on a deeply psychological level, these ideas are related, but, as a mother who has breast fed two incredibly adorable babies... I'd prefer to remain blissfully ignorant of their cannibal instincts, frankly.

Chapter 3 was about works of Science Fiction. There are many examples of hunger and eating (or "consumption and ingestion" as the author says. Why can't he just say "eating"?) and it's symbology in works of science fiction. OK, yea, there are lots of hungry zombies out there jonesing for a dinner of fresh brains. OK. I get it.

Now Chapter 4 looks like it has promise. It's titled "Quilting and the Empty Body, Food and Dieting". Unfortunately, I can't make myself get back to it now that I picked up next month's book "My Life in France", by Julia Child, and accidentally started reading it.

I'm sorry, Fabio, but I just haven't enjoyed reading your book. And I'm sorry to dis your book out here on the Internet where my millions of readers will be influenced by my bad review (ha ha, "millions of readers"... I crack myself up sometimes).

Anyway, if y'all want to join us, please stop by Kate's site, The Clean Plate Club, and get yourself on the blog list. I'm already enjoying Julia Child's book. I think it's going to be a winner.


Bunny said...

Oh geez, you made it further than I think I would have, reading is suppose to be enjoyable right!!??

kate said...

wow. now i'm REALLY glad i couldn't seem to get around to getting this book...