New Year’s Reading: Fifty Shades of Flounder

I’ve read some Gunter Grass, and even excerpted Local Anaesthetic here. I got my Thanksgiving stuffing recipe from him. Then a year plus ago New York Magazine mentioned The Flounder in a list of great food books. It seemed natural that I’d pick up a copy and now finally I have. This should be an interesting read. Here’s a sampling from the first pages:

I had studded the shoulder of mutton with halved garlic cloves, sauted the pears in butter, and bedded them on boiled string beans. Even though Ilsebill, speaking with her mouth still full, said there was no reason why it shouldn’t come off, or “take” right away, because she had thrown her pills down the john as the doctor advised, what I heard was that our bed should have priority over the neolithic cook.

And so we lay down, arming and legging each other around as we have done since time immemorial. Sometimes I, sometime she on top. Equal, though Ilsebill contends that the male’s privilege of penetrating is hardly compensated by the female’s paltry prerogative of refusing admittance. But because we mated in love, our feelings were so all-embracing that in an expanded space, transcending time and its tick-tock, freed from the heaviness of our earthbound bed, a collateral, ethereal union was achieved; as though in compensation, her feeling penetrated mine in hard thrusts: we worked doubly and well.

Eaten before the mutton with pears and beans, Ilsebill’s fish soup, distilled from codfish heads that have had the hell boiled out of them, probably embodied the catalytic agent with which, down through the ages, the cooks inside me have invited pregnancy; for by chance, by destiny, and without further ingredients, it came off, it took. No sooner was I out again–as though expelled–than Ilsebill said with perfect assurance, “Well, this time it’s going to be a boy.”

Don’t forget the savory. With boiled potatoes or, historically, with millet. Our mutton–as always advisable–had been served on warmed plates. Nevertheless our kiss, if I may be forgiven one last indiscretion, was coated with tallow. In the fish soup, which Ilsebill had made green with dill and capers, codfish eyes floated white and signified happiness.

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