ICYMI #006: Food & feelings.


Food & feelings.
ICYMI no. 006  |  December 2020

Welcome to ICYMI Monthly. Every month, we feature four essays and two craft pieces handpicked by our editors.

In our 25+ years, Creative Nonfiction has published hundreds of original works, most of which have never been available online. Now we're sharing some of our best writing with you. Happy reading!

ESSAY  |  CNF #41, Food (2011)
HOW TO FIX EVERYTHING  |  Heather A. McDonald
The lifesaving effects of a home-cooked meal 

"First, there were the casseroles: strange combinations of chicken, canned chilies and potato chips, or green beans, cream of mushroom soup and fried potato sticks. Then there were the Jell-O salads, shaken out of greased Bundt pans and shimmering on cut-glass plates; some salads were clear and some creamy, some with celery or carrots and others with canned pineapple or fruit cocktail. A percolator chirped on the sideboard, brewing church-hall-style coffee, watery and bitter. Coca-Cola, ginger ale, Sprite and tonic water sat on the kitchen table, their condensation rings soaking the tablecloth." Read →

ON CRAFT  |  CNF #69, Intoxication (2019)
COCKTAILS 101  |  Beth Kracklauer
What we don't talk about when we talk about drinking

"Why do we drink alcohol? I heard it spelled out with clinical precision one night, years ago. I’d recently landed a job as a fact-checker at Gourmet and found myself out for drinks near the magazine’s Times Square offices with some editors I was a little in awe of. My shoes were all wrong. Where I’d gone to college was all wrong. I was pretty sure any drink I ordered would be judged wrong, too, as my companions sloshed single-malts around on their palates and assessed the esters and phenolics. But I needed a Manhattan—my grandma’s cocktail and, for me, always, a big boozy hug of a drink—so I ordered one. The grizzled editor seated next to me did the same, which I’ll confess I found affirming. When our Manhattans arrived, he and I sipped in silence for a few minutes, letting the liquor do its work. Then he smiled down into his glass, palpably gratified, and said, ‘After a long day, having a Manhattan is a lot like having a mild stroke.’ So true, I thought—and so far from anything we’d print in the magazine." Read →

ESSAY  |  CNF #51, Sustainability (2014)
A nervous and incomplete case study

"Let’s talk about shredded romaine lettuce for a minute. Too boring? Lettuce is boring. Let’s talk about State Garden (Chelsea, Massachusetts) Organic Spinach and Spring Mix Blend. The company’s webpage is currently under construction, but the slogan under the PLEASE EXCUSE US WHILE WE UNDERGO REDEVELOPMENT OF OUR WEBSITE is ‘Where Freshness Comes First.’ Let’s talk about raw clover sprouts on sandwiches at Jimmy John’s. No? How about industrial beef production process that results in workers sometimes nicking the intestines of cows during slaughter and thus releasing E. coli bacteria that have the potential to shut down little kids’ kidneys and kill them?" Read →

ESSAY  |  CNF #68, Risk (2018)
COOKING FOR JAMES  |  dee Hobsbawn-Smith
Our heroes make lasting impacts ... even when they disappoint us

"James Barber was already really famous in Vancouver. His raspy voice had become familiar to Canadians over the CBC’s radio airwaves, first as culinary tutor to Don Harron and then, more recently, to Peter Gzowski, on Morningside. But within the decade, James would become a global figure. Following TV culinary pioneers like Julia Child and Graham Kerr, The Urban Peasant—as James called himself—would broaden the horizons and palates of his audience while championing simple, local cooking." Read →

ON CRAFT |  CNF #69, Intoxication (2019)
LAST CALL  |  Kira Compton
How to write outside of a bar

Once, back when I was a drinking woman, I read the ending to Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms aloud at a dive bar. My captive audience: a forty-year-old oyster shucker, an Irish newlywed, and an older man with a bad eye. None of them cared much for my rendition, but like most drunks, I was oblivious to what anyone else in the room wanted." Read →

ESSAY  |  CNF #69, Intoxication (2019)
BONE BREAD  |  Suzanne LaFetra Collier
In a warm kitchen, yeast froths and comes to life

"Late on Halloween night at the kitchen window. She catches a glimpse of her reflection; she looks tired in her grandmother’s apron tied over the witch costume she’s still wearing.

Most years, she buys the pan de muerto from a panadería in the Mission, selecting the bread shaped like bones from a smudged glass case, but this year, she needs to make it from scratch.

Often when she cooks, she wings it: a pinch of something, a shake of another. She eyeballs it. But with the bread of the dead, you need to be careful." Read →

#cnftweet  |  Twitter Daily Contest

@vic_toriawrites: On the Day of the Dead, my people make a drink from berries, ishpingo, fruit pulp, corn flour—what we enjoy as we evoke our ancestors. This year—thousands of miles away from the Andes—I poured a cup, only to find that both my nose & tongue savored nothing. Just absence.
7:21 PM · Dec 7, 2020

@brevitymag: "You realize," she said, "that you are emotionally eating right now." I wanted to tell her just how wrong she was, but couldn't answer with my mouth full of pretzel.
6:56 AM · Dec 8, 2020

@ConnieKuhns: Every holiday we shared what we could from our cupboards. Mom wrapped the canned goods in white paper (as was the custom) to be delivered to the church. And without fail, every holiday a charity basket would be left on our front porch. As kids, we didn't know why.
6:45 PM · Dec 11, 2020

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