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 INGĂ‰NUE in this yearâ€™s performance of â€śWhy Do I Live in New York?â€ť.Â 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.Â 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 olâ€™ New York City, among encounters with men ofÂ all shapes and sizes (heh), with razor blade lips and high-fashion pouts, with glisteningÂ eyes and affectionate brows; after inviting into my home countless opportunities forÂ romance and profound mutual discovery, I have reached this ultimate conclusion: I’mÂ better off with bread.
My restless Monday (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday?) evenings with empty shot glasses and the lofty arrogance ofÂ personal politics always lead to the same question: how am I ever going to fall in thatÂ perfect pit of love with a man who feels the same, and when am I going to get laid, G-dÂ damn it?! (Liquor loosens the lips.)
So I stumble, liquid, into the trite realization that love is private, unique, personal, andÂ ultimately, a one-sided endeavor. What solace could there possibly be in this realization, you mightÂ wonder? Â ThatÂ my love is a warm, malleable mess that I have the power to putÂ into anything I please! I can fall in love with my Fleetwood Mac record, my needlepointÂ portraiture, my Tuesday nights on the couch with my newfound Netflix account. Love will liveÂ 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 myÂ countertop. A little lukewarm water and a little bit of flour form a beautiful pair. Â In up to my elbows, I formed it for myself, turned it in my hands until it was smooth, and left it to ferment. Â My little, sludgy friend is taking on a life of its own. Natural bacteria in the flour areÂ now mating and multiplyingâ€”there’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 ofÂ sourdough. Once it starts to smell like the inside of a piss-filled beer bottle, it needsÂ feeding. Iâ€™ll fill it with more flour and waterâ€”and rid it of its excessâ€”in the same delicateÂ routine every morning until I’m ready to act. One teensy tablespoon will make it into theÂ final loaf.
Like a helpless little monster, this bowl of shit needs me to survive. But it’s not anÂ exasperating dependency. He provides for me as well: companionship on a drearyÂ Sunday morning (what else can make me laugh as heartily as sneaking a peak beneathÂ his raggedy blue towel!), a sense of urgency to return home at the end of the workdayÂ (I hope he hasn’t toppled out of his bowl!), and when the time comes, a smell like aÂ crackly harvest morning filling my kitchen while I recline in bed with a book.
I may sound like a crazy personâ€”and I am, to be sureâ€”but thereâ€™s still something toÂ be learned from this. Romance and beauty should be fostered wherever they can beÂ claimed. Sure, there’s nothing in a loaf of bread like the clasp of a lover’s hand (thoughÂ the uplifting aroma may parallel that mystifying cologne which always goes straightÂ to my head), but there is certainly romance. There is romance in any private act ofÂ creation and discovery. And it is profound, it is beautiful, and it is my own; and I amÂ blissfully, unabashedly, foolishly in love with a loaf of bread.
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