Why hello there, and welcome back to Kitchen Catastrophes, the blog that woks the wok, and talks the talk, and I’m SUPER UPSET I only just know thought of that joke instead of when I was announcing Asian August. I didn’t EVEN USE MY WOK for that month! YEARS OF ACADEMY TRAINING WASTED. Anywho, we’re finally back on schedule, after a week of medical issues delayed last week’s posts , and we’re starting off this month with another Announcement: IT’S ANOTHER THEME MONTH, BAY-BEE!
Why are we doing this? Who approved this madness? What’s the theme going to be? HUSH, and Clopin will tell you!
One of many unreliable French Narrators.
Not So Vile a Sin as Self-Neglecting
The reason we’re doing two theme months in a row is…honestly, because it calmed me down. I’ve noted this before, but one of the most frustrating parts of running the blog is figuring out what to write about and when. A process that’s become more difficult over the last year or so, with the existential angst and confusion of losing my father. I don’t say that as a cheap emotional tactic, but as an explanation for the next revelation: my doctor has officially referred me to see a counselor for anxiety. And it may be facile, or simplistic to draw a direct line between the two events, but I do believe they’re connected. We won’t know for sure until I see and speak with the professionals.
As such, I think it’s worth noting the value of self-love in doing something like this: I control the content of the site, and committing to “I’m going to do two theme months in a row so I don’t have to keep looking for stuff” was a great relief for me. Because the themes give just ENOUGH structure that I don’t feel trapped, but I also don’t feel overwhelmed. I hope this serves as a valid reason to you. And if not, I want to share a quick lesson taught to me by one of my mentors as I learned theatre: “Go out there, do your best, and if they don’t like it: fuck ‘em.”
Advice I often also took for my collegiate wardrobe.
And that bit of coarse input from the theatre is actually doubly reflective of the reason to this month’s theme. Because my training is in Theatre. It’s what I LIKE to do, it’s something I’m good at, and it’s something I’ve been paid to do in a professional capacity. It is one of my callings. Which is why the fall of the last few years has been a little tough: As I’ve noted several times, I spend the fall bouncing between Leavenworth and Port Orchard, a month in one, then a month in the other. It’s actually a great time, BUT it makes it functionally impossible to do much theatre in the fall, unless it’s VERY precisely timed. Last year, I was lucky enough to be cast in Buddy! The Buddy Holly Story, whose rehearsal and performance schedule perfectly lined up with the gaps in my schedule. This year, I was not so lucky.
Thus, this theme month, which you might have guessed already, as there’s been two references to it, and, if you know my history of Theme months being (mostly) alliterative (Damn you Diner Month September). So it’s theatre related, starts with an S, and has been hinted at ere now…what could it be…
Ol’ Will’s somehow a little Hotter in the Spanish drawings of him.
That’s right, we’re doing Shakespeare September! A few weeks to really dig into the Bard’s work in a culinary sense. This actually lets me get SUPER specific into my theatre jam, as it lets me lean into my stuff as a Dramaturge! Dramaturgy, as I briefly touched on back in our Okonomiyaki post, is a somewhat rarefied position in theatres: you’re the nerd of the house. Specifically, the Dramaturg works with the director, other production staff, the board of the theater, and sometimes the actors and authors, to ensure a steady flow of the information necessary for the overall season, as well as each director’s vision and each show’s script to be properly executed.
Let me un-resumé that: the dramaturg is the critic/editor/”voice of history” to a theater’s season, and each show. Let’s say you’re doing a show set in the 60’s, and someone charges the main character a dollar for a hamburger. The dramaturg is the one who notes, in case the actors or director missed it in their research, that that’s a stupidly HIGH price. You could buy 4 cheeseburgers for that price at McDonald’s at the time, and still afford a milkshake. So the character would not be HAPPY to hear that price. Dramaturgs do things like research a given author’s views on various issues, what they’ve said about the play, and so on.
To go with a more Shakespearean example: at one point in Much Ado About Nothing, one of the minor villains is drunk, and notes that he, for his part in the evil scheme of the show, has earned “one thousand ducats”. A modern actor might say “Okay, he got paid a thousand bucks for like, half an hour of work, no wonder he’s so happy”. But that’s not right. One thousand ducats is not worth $1,000. It’s worth a fuck-ton (to use the academic term) more. Depending on how you choose to measure it, one thousand ducats is roughly equivalent to somewhere between $400,000 and $3,000,000. He didn’t just get a thousand bucks, he got several years/DECADES worth of pay. He got Rap Rich.
IN getting this picture for this post, I discovered there’s actually been a dramatic shift in champagne choices among rappers, which feels like news I should have heard before now.
(apparently, Cristal is out, and Belaire is in)
And that’s a bit of a joke, but’s also a great way to show to the audience just how much money is on the line: if your theatre has the budget, Borachio isn’t just pounding back Rainers to celebrate: he’s popping bottles of…”Belaire”, I guess. (Sadly, this almost never happens, because even the theatres that have the budget to give the character cheap champagne to pop every show don’t want to have the janitors come clean up the mess between the scenes.)
So I’m a huge nerd, and I’m wallowing in theatrical details for a month. But how will this work on a food blog?
If Music Be The Food of Love, Play On
The answer to that is…well, honestly, I’m a little unsure. Wait, let me walk that back: the FIRST part is easy: there’s plenty of foods MENTIONED in Shakespeare, or based on Shakespearean plays, or whose names make great Shakespearean references, etc. And I’ve already picked out a couple of them. I have to do a Shakespearean Snack Day, for instance, because Brazil’s Romeu e Julietta (Romeo and Juliet) is an easy dish to make. (It’s just cheese and a fruit paste. We’ll talk more about it soon.) I have one dish that I don’t WANT to make, but I love the LINE it references so much I think I’m going to bully myself into doing it.
This Picture is the hint for it. Okay, I’ll give you ONE more hint: Act V.
Where I’m UNSURE is what, precisely, I should do with the Thursday posts. I’ve got one or two nailed down: a Shakespearean Cookbook to review, and so on; but broadly, I’m at a loss. I could go HARD dramaturg, and spend extra posts discussing aspects of the plays referenced in the Monday posts, or recommending specific versions of the plays, I could lean hard into the edutainment angle of the site and spend some time teaching you guys about the basics of understanding and acting with Shakespeare. I could break from the theme entirely and just cover other important stuff going on in the culinary world. (They rebooted Good Eats, you guys, I’m so excited. The first episode is on Youtube, and was about Chicken Parmigiana, with several of the same points we covered in our post (though without the obsessive breakdown of Italian linguistics))
But I’m fine not knowing what I’m going to do for the moment. I’m in a better place than I was when I made the call, because it took some of the choices out of my hands. And as things continue, I’m sure I’ll figure it out. But for now, gird thyselves, for the Shakespeare September is beginning!
MONDAY: JON MAKES AN ASS OF HIMSELF, AND A VEGAN SNACK.
THURSDAY: JON REVIEWS THAT COOKBOOK HE MENTIONED, IMMEDIATELY BURNING THROUGH HIS PLANNED THURSDAY CONTENT. HE MAY BE LESS ANXIOUS, BUT HE’S STILL PRETTY DUMB.