Dirty Food- Literally

I saw this on Yahoo and just had to repost it because.. because, well seriously? Dirt? Really? What the hell, people? I read that in a book once as a joke and you’re actually doing it? Seriously, it’s in “Hogfather” by Terry Pratchett, look it up. And here I thought it had been a fairly farfetched joke…

This Japanese Restaurant Has a Dirty Little Secret

By | Shine Food

Tokyo has a well-deserved reputation for high-end dining but one restaurant is making headlines for a menu that’s less hoity-toity and more down and dirty.

A French establishment named Ne Quittez Pas (“Please don’t leave”) is serving a ‘dirt course’, according to Japanese Rocket News, a website that sampled the menu. For $110 you can eat the stuff you scrub off your sneakers and pry from your kid’s mouth on the playground. Ne Quittez Pas’ menu includes a potato starch and dirt soup, salad with dirt dressing, aspic made with oriental clams and a top layer of sediment, a dirt risotto with sauteed sea bass, dirt gratin, and dirt ice cream. According to the Rocket News  investigation, despite appearing, well, dirty, none of the dishes  actually tasted like dirt and were described as “delicious” and  “divine.” They also reported that the dirt contains coffee grinds and  palm fiber.

“The dirt is called Kuro Tsuchi and it’s volcanic ashes mixed with soil and plants from the Kanto District in Japan,” Saeko Torii, a rep from the dirt manufacture Protoleaf told SHINE. “It has good bacteria, healthy minerals, and is natural and pure.”

So will we start seeing dirt on U.S. menus? And is it even safe? “Dirt isn’t regulated for human consumption so it’s hard to know the effects it would have on a person,” says Rebecca Scritchfield, a Washington, D.C. based registered dietitian. “Food gets its nutrients from soil, but one does not eat the actual soil. What’s more, countries have different safety regulations—people in Scotland eat sheep brains but that’s not allowed in the U.S. Protoleaf says their soil is safe to consume but is it safe to eat by American standards? We don’t know because we don’t really know what’s in it.”
For example, does the soil contain toxins, glass, or rocks? And is it even soil at all or just a snazzy marketing tool?
“My guess is that it’s a gimmick,” says Scritchfield. “You can consume good bacteria that promotes healthy digestion and immunity by eating foods like yogurt, tempeh, olives, pickles, or sauerkraut. Likewise, you can consume minerals by eating more fruits, vegetables, beans, and dairy.”

So, if you have an adventurous palate and a plane ticket to Tokyo, would you be insane to sample the dirt menu at Ne Quittez Pas? “If it’s real dirt, I’m not going to recommend it any time soon,” says Scritchfield.

PROTOLEAF: Salad with dirt dressing

PROTOLEAF: Dirt risotto with sauteed sea bass

PROTOLEAF: Dirt ice cream

PROTOLEAF: Dirt gratin

PROTOLEAF: Aspic made with oriental clams and a top layer of sediment

http://shine.yahoo.com/shine-food/this-japanese-restaurant-has-a-dirty-little-secret–164612162.html

So I’ve Been Thinking

Okay, so I’ve been thinking, as you might have noticed from the title, which I realize is always dangerous for me to do (ba dum bum), but bear with me here. First, I should mention that last semester I took this English class that was like intermediate level and it was introducing all these different ways of analyzing a text, which of course introduced all these different ideas and ways of looking at the world, which is amazingly hard to turn off. I find myself looking at things and thinking “Well, there’s exchange of women”, which isn’t as dirty as it sounds, or “And there’s Orientalization of foreign cultures.” (For the record, exchange of women is the idea that most of the way that men interact and culture itself is based on how men use women. And I’m not just talking about in the olden days, when they would basically sell a woman to cement a treaty, but even nowadays, when guys bond by going out “picking up chicks. Yeah!” And Orientalization of a culture is basically when a country, in this case the U.S. looks at another country or region, like the Middle East, and sees in it all the things it fears about itself, or feminizes it in the worst, most masogynistic way possible. Like, we’re strong and stoic, hardworking and loyal, and they are mysterious, emotional, irrational and untrustworthy. Note that I am not saying that that is what I think, I’m merely explaining the concept, whose originator I cannot remember at the moment but I will likely google later, since I sold back the book. Anyway, there it is, in case anyone at all cared.)
Anyway, moving along. Now, you mix that influx of new ideas with this thing I read and all of a sudden, I’m thinking about something that honestly kind of disturbs me. First, so that you will know what I’m talking about, here is the post in question. It’s from the Ilona Andrew’s blog, whom, if you will remember, I adore.
Gender in YA Books

http://www.ilona-andrews.com/blog/page/6
December 6, 2012 by Ilona ·
Brooke Lago ‏@wonderland449
@ilona_andrews A friend shared this article & as authors w/ strong heroines, I wondered what you would think of it?

The article in question is The Legacy of Katniss, or, Why We Should Stop ‘Protecting’ Manhood and Teach Boys to Embrace the Heroine.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-vail/young-adult-novels_b_2199812.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

Brooke also tweeted:

@natasha_lh@justinemusk I shared the article w/ @LKHamilton and@ilona_andrews bc they are two of my fave authors who write strong heroines

I don’t appreciate being put on the spot, because if you ask me something like this, I will answer and that won’t earn me many friends.

This is a giant, giant can of multicolored worms, and I am on a deadline, so I will touch on it only briefly. First of all, saying “strong heroine” is like saying “a free gift.” It’s redundant. Being heroic, by definition, is possessing some strength, most of the time, strength of moral conviction that culminates in you placing yourself in a harm’s way to protect others. Firefighters are heroes. Soldiers are heroes. Heroes are people who have the moral strength to risk or sacrifice themselves for the good of others. It is a gender-neutral occupation.

Heroes can be weak in body, but never in spirit. Otherwise our story ends up being, “He was weak and selfish. The end.”

When we wrote Kate Daniels, I personally didn’t set out to write “a strong woman.” I set out to write a woman whose humanity endures despite her upbringing. With that in mind, let’s try to look at the different worms.

Men and Women Are Different. If a woman comes up to me and says, “I’m a feminist, and men and women are the same,” I will tune out whatever else she has to say, because she is the exact opposite of being a feminist. Being a feminist is understanding the differences between men and women and effectively demonstrating that while differences exist, they shouldn’t dictate unequal treatment.

Women, on average, are physically weaker. We have smaller size, lower bone mass, and less upper body strength. We can compensate for this by training, but we have to work harder than men at achieving the same level of strength. This is a fact.

Men, on average, have higher levels of testosterone. They have greater bone mass. They have greater muscle mass. Some people also attribute increased levels of aggression to testosterone, but I don’t believe a definitive link has been established. We do know that testosterone affects the risk taking level and women are generally more averse to risk. Actually, we didn’t need a study for this. We could just watch World’s Dumbest Daredevils or Most Shocking on TruTV. Ninety nine percent of these clips resulting in bodily harm feature men. Men do things like hit each other in the balls, because they think it’s funny. Can you picture a group of girls punching each other’s breasts and laughing? No, because it hurts.

“Hey, Jane, how about you take off your pants and we’ll stick this firecracker up your butt and light it on fire?”

“What are you, crazy?”

“Hey John, how about that firecracker?”

fireworks

I think we can agree physical differences between men and women exist. Some people link it to evolutionary adaptations. An early male had to take a lot of risk. Here is a sharpened stick. Go poke that mammoth with it. That’s a hell of a risk right there, but somebody had to bring home the mammoth. I’m not super sold on it. The truth is, we don’t quite know why testosterone makes men more reckless.

Society views men and women as different based on their physical differences. When I was a child, I read a nursery rhyme in a Russian book. I was probably seven or so, but it’s stuck in my head because it defined the world. It had a picture of a family on the beach, with muscular dad, a mom in a bikini and two kids. The rhyme said:

The sky is blue

The sea is blue

Dad is strong

Mom is pretty.

That’s the social gender gap in a nutshell. Men are supposed to be strong, women are supposed to be beautiful. Look at the commercials. Men get a “Gain muscle, don’t be a weakling” while women get “Lose weight and paint yourself pretty.” God help you, if you are male and not athletic or female and not beautiful.

The reason why the article affected me so deeply was because even at that age I knew I wasn’t primarily strong or pretty. I was smart. Where the heck do I fit into this family? We’ll come back to this in a minute.

As a society, we extend the physical differences onto how we treat children. In Western society, men are historically the dominant gender. If one analyses this in terms of class-based society structure (USSR education paying off), you can clearly see the dividing lines. The classist theory says that while all class lines are defended, reaching from lower class to higher class is viewed as a lesser wrong. For example, if a girl dresses as a boy, she is imitating men, she’s a tomboy, and it’s cute. If a boy dresses as a girl, it is unacceptable, freaky, and weird. The girl takes a step up, while the boy takes a step down. The dominant societal class must maintain power at all costs. Any downward movement is the surrender of that power.

Women dressed in male clothes are sexy. Men dressed in women clothing are drag queens. A comic featuring scantily clad female superheroes is not lesbian, it appeals to men. A comic featuring scantily clad men is “subtly homoerotic,” because the assumption is only the male audience matters. Women couldn’t possibly be interested in seeing scantily clad men.

scantily clad man

Men are the dominant class, so men are supposed to be providers. It’s a double-edged sword. We, as a society, place crushing burdens on our men and sometimes they fold under pressure and we end up with family annihilators.

Suppose you have a daughter, a sister, or a female friend and she brings her new boyfriend to meet you. You ask him what he plans to do for his living and he says, “I’m planning on finishing high school and then I really just want to be a father. I’d like to be a stay at home dad and putter around.”

OMG, he is some kind of deadbeat.

Suppose it’s a male friend and his girlfriend tells you she wants to be a mother and a homemaker. You may think it’s kind of lame, but most people will likely not think less of her for it. And if you attack her or criticize her on that choice, there will be people who will have a knee jerk reaction to defend her. ”Don’t you dare criticize her choice. Being stay-at-home mom is hard.” So is being a stay-at-home dad! If your daughter wants to be a stay-at-home mom and her boyfriend wants to be a stay-at-home dad, how are they going to feed themselves? Why is it the boy who automatically faces the burden of providing for the family? Is it because the girl is less capable? Is she weaker?

And this is the root of the problem. As long as we tell girls that low expectations are okay, there is no hope of a true equality. None. If my daughters ever date a girl, I expect her to tell me she wants to be a nurse, an astronaut, a teacher, something. I want her to be confident and to have aspirations. There will always be time to stay at home and be a mother, but I hope that at first she has dreams and ambitions. I want her to find something she loves to do and explore it. I want her to be a strong partner for my child.

Just to be clear, before I’m flooded with hate: staying with kids is a perfectly valid, viable choice. I’ve done it and I was a stay at home mom until the kids went to school full time. Our daycare would’ve cost more than what I would’ve earned. But it should be a choice each family makes for themselves and we, as a society, shouldn’t tell boys that they are less male because of it or make the girls feel guilty if they choose to have a career instead.

How does all this relate to YA books?

Remember how I said that smart didn’t fit into the nursery rhyme? It’s because smart is gender-neutral. Kind is also gender-neutral. Being a good friend. Being disciplined. Doing the right thing when it’s difficult, especially when it’s difficult. Having honor and integrity. Those are not the functions of our gender. Those are the functions of our humanity.

So if you want boys to read books with female YA protagonists, stop making getting the boy the point of the book.

But Hunger Games!

Yes. It was brilliant. My kids loved it. What else you’ve got?

By the way, look at the Hunger Games. Look at what happens in the Capital. Katniss is not presented as a warrior to the capital. They present her as a girl and they ask her if there is a special someone. To make her popular, they have to clean the viciousness off and make her more feminine. That’s when the crowd gets fired up – when they know there is a romance. Presence of a boy in her life gives Katniss value in their eyes. It is an exceptionally astute criticism of gender roles.

My girls read Lightning Thief and Harry Potter, not because the protagonists are men but because these books have adventure. They have danger, plot, turns and twists, they have conflict, and they deal with betrayal and love and coming into conflict with adult world.

But girls like to read about romance?

Great. And there are tons of YA books that are about romance and there should be. Some books are meant for a primarily female audience just as some books are aimed at a primarily male audience. But if you are trying to appeal to both, you must accept that women and men view romance from different angles. Boys and girls both fall in love and do desperate things. Romance is exciting and it should be in YA books, because first love is a part of adolescence. But if you want your YA books to have cross-gender appeal, make your books to be more than an exploration of being a girl in love. Make it an exploration of being a human being. You would get more girl readers that way anyway.

Okay, so we have that, which I’ve been meaning to repost anyway, as it’s brilliant, but it got me to thinking about something that I’ve noticed, which is that in tv or movies today, if there is a gay character, it’s always a man. Pretty much always. I mean, there are the exceptions like “The L Word” and whatnot, but those are on paid cable and seem to be kind of niche shows. But broad appeal shows, that are supposedly about the modern world, and embracing differences and whatnot? Always a gay guy. Modern Family, The New Normal, even ones that aren’t about embracing differences, just ridiculous people, like The B in Apartment 23? All gay guys. Not a lesbian among them. At first I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that, since I mean, what does that mean when you don’t have the vocabulary to even really think about it? But you add in what Ilona was saying there and all of a sudden it makes more sense. A male dominated society is trying to come to terms with gay men. It’s trying to assimilate the idea that it’s okay, which is fine. But someone is being left out, someone is being ignored and that is the lesbians. I’m worried that it’s because society, on some level, deems them useless. Because they are not men, and therefore inherently more useful, because of that class system Ilona was talking about, and they can’t be used to solidify male interactions, like in exchange of women, they are being ignored and perhaps shunted to the side. And that’s wrong. You can’t ignore an entire group of people just because they don’t want to have sex with you. I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong, but I honestly don’t see any big part that lesbians are playing in our culture or our cultural conversation about.. is gayness that right word? Queerness? Either one sounds bad. Well, you know what I mean. Because, I mean, that is what tv, books and movies are. They are a conversation we are having with ourselves about who we are, who we were and who we intend to be. It’s how we accept new ideas and let go of old ones. It’s how we come to terms with events, national tragedies and changing times, and lesbians are being left out of that. Drag queens get more air than they do, because, I can only assume, they are male. It’s disturbing, and if it’s for the reasons I’m coming to think, then it’s not right. I realize that this whole thing was kind of off topic for me, but, as I said, I’ve been thinking about this. Let me know if you think I’m wrong or not.

The “Hunter Kiss” series by Marjorie M. Liu

the mortal bone

I have recently added Marjorie M. Liu to my list of favorite authors. I edged around her for years, noting her books in the store, occasionally picking one up but never reading one. They just seemed… not uninteresting but maybe the sort of thing that I wouldn’t really get into. It just didn’t really seem like my kind of thing. But, one day I decided, what the hell? What can it hurt to try? And, obviously, I have not regretted that decision. It also helped that I had read a short story of hers in an anthology, which if you’ll remember one of my earliest posts, is a great way to discover new authors. It’s also a great way to lose valuable brain cells and six or so dollars of your hard earned money, but you roll the dice. Anyway, so I tried Liu out and, amazingly, actually picked up her first book, purely by accident. What are the odds? But that’s not the focus of this, because that’s part of a different series. Here I am talking about her Hunter Kiss series, which starts with a short story and thus far has four books in it. It’s really, really cool. I think I know where she’s going with it, but I cannot imagine how she’ll manage it and that’s always a plus in a series. If you see every twist and turn coming a mile away, what’s the point? Where’s the fun? Where’s the joy, the experience of seeing it all through the character’s eyes as it happens?

Okay, so- Hunter Kiss. Let’s start with this- the world as we know it, is not really the world.  A lot of books start that way and it’s a pretty classic way to start. The world we know is not all there is to know and the author draws back the curtain to include us in this special new view of reality. So far, nothing new in that. And when this curtain is drawn back, it is revealed that demons are real. Also, so far nothing new. Things as far reaching as Buffy the Vampire Slayer have used that. But this one is a bit different, and I’ll tell you why. The person, the one person capable of defending us from the demon hordes is Maxine Kiss, the last Hunter, the last Warden of a dying prison. That prison is here, that prison is Earth. It turns out, humans are so vulnerable to demons, so deeply incapable of defending themselves against them, that our world was turned into a prison just to protect us. And beyond the boundary of our dimension, our world, there are rings of other prisons, holding the demons, with the most harmless closest to us. The “most harmless” being the ones who only possess us, force us to do terrible things and feed off of our pain, just to give you a sense of perspective here. Not that this series is one of those that lovingly dwells on the horror, like some do. Mostly it focuses on Maxine as she tries to protect our world, us, from these creatures as the cracks in the prison walls get larger and start to come crumbling down. She comes from a ten- thousand year old line of hunters, blood bound to five demons who help them, protect them, and fight for them. During the day, these demons live on her skin as tattoos, making her virtually immortal. Like, literally, immortal. You could drop an atomic bomb on her head, bury her alive, set her on fire, push her in front of a bus, and nothing would happen. These are not examples I pulled out of thin air, btw, these are all things that have either happened to her or to women in her bloodline. And when night falls, the demons are free and fight for her. It’s an apocalyptic story, obviously, but it’s also a story of heroics and sacrifice, as well as a love story because obviously she has a love interest and he is also very, very cool and totally worthy to stand by her side.

I do wish that Liu had more of a knack for making things seem epic, but I get that that is a rare gift, I’ve really only read a few authors who could truly pull that off, so I’m trying not to dwell on it too much although it would add so much to the story if she could get just a little of that. As it is, it feels very intimate, obviously, and there’s the sense of one small person against overwhelming odds and you do wonder how she’ll do it, since Maxine is not the bloodthirsty warrior type, and you do truly love all the characters. I just wish that it had more of that epic struggle, grand scale thing going, where you’re reading it going “Holy crap, this is unbelievable” and it just takes your breath away. That said, I still really love this series, and totally recommend it to any and all who are into those kinds of books. I promise, there is no Mary- Sue-ing, a la Laurell K. Hamilton for whom there is just no excuse. Ahem, unless you like Laurell K. Hamilton, in which case I said nothing.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0441016065/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=wwwliteraryni-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0441016065
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0441017304/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=wwwliteraryni-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0441017304
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0441019013/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=wwwliteraryni-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0441019013
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1937007189/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=wwwliteraryni-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1937007189

Hello Again

I considered just starting posting again without posting this, but then I thought people might feel like I was using them, soo.. yeah, here we are. Anyway, I have no good explanation for why I stopped posting, other than the semester had started and I got really distracted and also I didn’t really feel I had anything worthwhile or terribly interesting to say. But I’ve found that I kind of miss shouting my opinion to whomever will listen, so I decided to make a triumphant return. Or not so triumphant, whatever.