Today's MoFo Prompt: "Make / eat something inspired by a book or film."
This prompt was hard for me! I'm not a big movie person, and I'm also not a great reader. I mean, I do read, but it's usually yoga philosophy or articles from the New York Times magazine... not really foodie stuff. I thought about doing an Ayurvedic meal in honor of the Yoga Sutras. This year I also read "Twelve Steps to a More Compassionate Life" - but I already blogged about a meal inspired by that book. Right now I am reading "Rin Tin Tin," which I am enjoying, but I wasn't really in the mood for a bowl of kibble for dinner. I also read "Peace is Every Step" recently, which has a section about eating and chewing in silence with no distractions... but somehow I wasn't feeling called to blog about that experience right now.
So, I got to thinking about other "literary" influences. Then I thought about Tintin books, which I read over and over and over as a kid. Surely there were some good meals in those books? Or was it just Captain Haddock drinking and people smoking opium? Then I remembered my first trip to Europe.
just look at that line-up of all-male protagonists.
I was 12 years old when my dad was invited to participate in a scientific event of some sort, over in Denmark. My parents made the most of it, and turned it into a European family vacation. It was a huge eye-opening and world-expanding experience for me! On that trip, I became aware of two life-changing phenomena: candy bars from other countries, and comic books from other countries.
My brother and me reading comics on the staircase at our grandparents' house:
I love this picture so much. You can see there, on the second shelf up, the stacks of comics that my grandparents kept for us. They never updated or added to their collection, so we just re-read the same comics over and over. I have such deeply affectionate memories of all that time spent on those stairs with those comic books. Look at the way my brother's feet are all tucked in, and at my total absorption. I'm really glad this picture exists, because these are very special memories for me.
Growing up, my brother and I were both huge fans of comic books. I read Archie, Mad Magazine, Tintin, Asterix, Smurfs, Super hero comics of all sorts, Caspar the Friendly Ghost, Richie Rich, all the comics in the New Yorker magazine (even though I didn't understand most of them), the daily comics in the newspaper, and on and on and on. In college, when I spent my junior year in Italy, I found comic books to be a great way to improve my Italian skills -- the pictures really helped reinforce the unfamiliar vocabulary, and there were also many slang terms that were useful to learn. I still love my collection of Italian comic books. Part of why I subscribe to the actual hard-copy local newspaper is so that I can read the comics every day.
On that first trip to Europe, when we arrived in England, I discovered "Beanos" and "Whizzer and Chips" and "Dandy" comics. Even with my 12-year-old's budget, I could afford to stock up, and I bought as many as I could. I remember that my suitcase on the way home was heavy with comics. Already at that age, I loved to draw and I loved drawing cartoons. Those British comics had a different character on each page, often drawn by different artists. Some of those artists I liked more than others, and they were definitely a huge influence on my doodling style today. It was fun, in honor of this post, to dig out some of my now-ancient comics and revisit those drawings that I had pored over and over and over as a kid.
full English breakfast, for dinner
sorry about all these after-dark pictures. I am finding it quite grueling to try to cook dinner before dark!
So, what does all this have to do with food? I remember in all these comics, frequent allusions to things like "bangers and mash" and "candy floss " and also "Fry-ups." I was curious about these mysterious delicacies! Since then, due to the wonders of vegan bloggers from across the UK, I have seen many lovely pictures and posts about veganized Full English breakfasts (aka "Fry ups")... but I hadn't yet recreated one for myself.
And so, I googled loads of vegan fry-ups for inspiration, and compiled this lovely dinner. I suppose it would have been even more complete if I had also prepare a simple tofu scramble to stand in for the eggs - and I even had the tofu in the fridge - but geez, this was a lot of work! Nothing was complicated, but cooking up the toast, the spinach, the mushrooms, the tomatoes, the sausages - and even just reheating the baked beans from a can - all proved to take a lot of coordinating and dirtied up a surprising number of dishes. At that point, I was slightly irritated and definitely not in the mood to make tofu scramble! Haha British friends, is there a way around this? All griping aside, I enjoyed this simple dinner, especially the cooked tomatoes, which is something I remember really enjoying on that first trip to Europe... all these years later, they still seemed so novel and unusual on a breakfast plate!