Food: An Unlikely Dough-mance
Guest contribution by Alex Testere, whose previous writing for The New Gay can be found here.
Alex Testere will be playing the role of THE ING√ČNUE in this year‚Äôs performance of ‚ÄúWhy Do I Live in New York?‚ÄĚ.¬† You may find him tucked safely inside a sweater on his fire escape, or talking to a Stevie Nicks record over a concoction of cardamom pods.¬† He revels in voracious daydreams, opaque paint, Oxford commas, and the clumsy stumbles of a tongue with a task.
At the end of my first five months in gay ol‚Äô New York City, among encounters with men of¬†all shapes and sizes (heh), with razor blade lips and high-fashion pouts, with glistening¬†eyes and affectionate brows; after inviting into my home countless opportunities for¬†romance and profound mutual discovery, I have reached this ultimate conclusion: I’m¬†better off with bread.
My restless Monday (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday?) evenings with empty shot glasses and the lofty arrogance of¬†personal politics always lead to the same question: how am I ever going to fall in that¬†perfect pit of love with a man who feels the same, and when am I going to get laid, G-d¬†damn it?! (Liquor loosens the lips.)
So I stumble, liquid, into the trite realization that love is private, unique, personal, and¬†ultimately, a one-sided endeavor. What solace could there possibly be in this realization, you might¬†wonder? ¬†That¬†my love is a warm, malleable mess that I have the power to put¬†into anything I please! I can fall in love with my Fleetwood Mac record, my needlepoint¬†portraiture, my Tuesday nights on the couch with my newfound Netflix account. Love will live¬†wherever I leave it, and I’ve left mine to leaven in a loaf of sourdough.
Right now, it’s a simple concoction of complex carbohydrates sitting on my¬†countertop. A little lukewarm water and a little bit of flour form a beautiful pair. ¬†In up to my elbows, I formed it for myself, turned it in my hands until it was smooth, and left it to ferment. ¬†My little, sludgy friend is taking on a life of its own. Natural bacteria in the flour are¬†now mating and multiplying‚ÄĒthere’s an orgiastic microcosm in this little bowl.
Now, why the hell am I in love with this? This stinky schlop is the starter for a loaf of¬†sourdough. Once it starts to smell like the inside of a piss-filled beer bottle, it needs¬†feeding. I‚Äôll fill it with more flour and water‚ÄĒand rid it of its excess‚ÄĒin the same delicate¬†routine every morning until I’m ready to act. One teensy tablespoon will make it into the¬†final loaf.
Like a helpless little monster, this bowl of shit needs me to survive. But it’s not an¬†exasperating dependency. He provides for me as well: companionship on a dreary¬†Sunday morning (what else can make me laugh as heartily as sneaking a peak beneath¬†his raggedy blue towel!), a sense of urgency to return home at the end of the workday¬†(I hope he hasn’t toppled out of his bowl!), and when the time comes, a smell like a¬†crackly harvest morning filling my kitchen while I recline in bed with a book.
I may sound like a crazy person‚ÄĒand I am, to be sure‚ÄĒbut there‚Äôs still something to¬†be learned from this. Romance and beauty should be fostered wherever they can be¬†claimed. Sure, there’s nothing in a loaf of bread like the clasp of a lover’s hand (though¬†the uplifting aroma may parallel that mystifying cologne which always goes straight¬†to my head), but there is certainly romance. There is romance in any private act of¬†creation and discovery. And it is profound, it is beautiful, and it is my own; and I am¬†blissfully, unabashedly, foolishly in love with a loaf of bread.
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