The Tower of Babel (detail), 1563 by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525-1530–1569)
Another entry in our ongoing series of literary recipes to celebrate Thanksgiving.
Leopold Bloom, hero of James Joyce’s Ulysses likes kidneys for breakfast. In fact–
Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liverslices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencods’ roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.
Okay, so there’s not much to this recipe. First, you’ve gotta buy the kidney–
A kidney oozed bloodgouts on the willowpatterned dish: the last. He stood by the nextdoor girl at the counter. Would she buy it too, calling the items from a slip in her hand? Chapped: washingsoda. And a pound and a half of Denny’s sausages.
Then you cook it with some butter in a frying pan (don’t forget to share with the cat, and don’t forget the pepper)–
While he unwrapped the kidney the cat mewed hungrily against him. Give her too much meat she won’t mouse. Say they won’t eat pork. Kosher. Here. He let the bloodsmeared paper fall to her and dropped the kidney amid the sizzling butter sauce. Pepper. He sprinkled it through his fingers ringwise from the chipped eggcup.
Then take your lazy adulterous wife her breakfast that you’ve lovingly prepared for her (she’ll need her strength for later). Oh, and don’t forget about the kidney that’s still cooking for you (unless you’re making some kind of subconscious symbolic burnt offering or something)–
—There’s a smell of burn, she said. Did you leave anything on the fire?
—The kidney! he cried suddenly.
He fitted the book roughly into his inner pocket and, stubbing his toes against the broken commode, hurried out towards the smell, stepping hastily down the stairs with a flurried stork’s legs. Pungent smoke shot up in an angry jet from a side of the pan. By prodding a prong of the fork under the kidney he detached it and turned it turtle on its back. Only a little burnt. He tossed it off the pan on to a plate and let the scanty brown gravy trickle over it.
Enjoy with gravy, toast, and a cup of tea–
Cup of tea now. He sat down, cut and buttered a slice of the loaf. He shore away the burnt flesh and flung it to the cat. Then he put a forkful into his mouth, chewing with discernment the toothsome pliant meat. Done to a turn. A mouthful of tea. Then he cut away dies of bread, sopped one in the gravy and put it in his mouth. What was that about some young student and a picnic? He creased out the letter at his side, reading it slowly as he chewed, sopping another die of bread in the gravy and raising it to his mouth.
He sopped other dies of bread in the gravy and ate piece after piece of kidney.
The Turkey, 1936 by Pablo Picasso (1881–1973)
Figure, 1876 by Odilon Redon (1840-1916)
Head of a Turkey Cock, 1820 by Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)
Sunday, 1989 by John Lessore (b. 1939)
Old Woman with Distaff, ca. 1642 by Bartolome Esteban Murillo (1617-1682)
Circus Woman, 1940 by Nakaji Yasui (1903-1942)
My First Lesson, 2014 by Wei Dong (b. 1968)
From the essay:
Broken glass, and broken windows in particular, are a notable byway in photography’s history. Brett Weston made one of the most striking examples in San Francisco in 1937. Weston was not recording evidence of a crime, or even particularly making a sociological comment. He was describing an abstraction with his camera, the calligraphic presence of a jagged black hole surrounded by a gray remnant of glass. What has been broken away dominates the picture. We see an outline like a map of a fictional island. There’s more dark to see here than glass, and the darkness is deep and mysterious, a mouth agape in an unending scream. About this picture, John Szarkowski, the influential curator at the Museum of Modern Art, wrote that the black shape “is not a void but a presence; the periphery of the picture is background.” In the middle, in that darkness, is where Weston’s self-portrait would be, if the window were intact.
Against the Day II, 2009 by Luc Tuymans (b. 1958)