Dancing with Food and Juggling the Myths

Monday Morning Musings:

 

“It has been said that the myth is a public dream, dreams are private myths. Unfortunately we give our mythic side scant attention these days. As a result, a great deal escapes us and we no longer understand our own actions. So it remains important and salutary to speak not only of the rational and easily understood, but also of enigmatic things: the irrational and the ambiguous. To speak both privately and publicly.”

–Mary Zimmermann, Metamorphoses

In October, my husband and I saw Metamorphoses, Mary Zimmermann’s play, based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses. We were immersed in ancient Greek myths, which still have such relevance today. It seems we tell and retell stories, hoping that somehow we will learn. Sometimes there are happy endings, but often there are not.

Over the weekend, we watched the final Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay, Part 2, which we missed when it was in theaters. Suzanne Collins, who wrote The Hunger Games trilogy, originally came up with the idea of her book from the story of the Minotaur. In the legend, King Minos of Crete required Athens to send as tribute seven young men and seven young women to Crete to be devoured by the ferocious Minotaur, a half man, half bull, who lived in a maze called the Labyrinth. This maze was designed by that champion-designer, Daedalus. (Daedulus was locked up in tower so that he could not share his knowledge of the labyrinth’s layout. To escape, he fashioned wings coated in wax so that he and his son Icarus could fly and escape. Icarus flew too high, and the hot sun melted his wings, causing him to fall into the sea and drown.) When the third sacrifice time approached, Theseus volunteered to go to slay the beast. Mino’s daughter, Ariadne, fell in love with Theseus, and in most versions of the story, she gave him a ball of thread. With that thread he was able to retrace his steps and find the way out of the labyrinth. (Play away with all the symbolism here, all the threads, so to speak. Also, apparently, the Minotaur was the child of Mino’s wife and a bull, so he was Ariadne’s half brother. Lots of subtext here.)

Collins also took aspects of the Roman coliseums and games, present day reality TV shows, and the war in Iraq to come up with her YA novels that involve a society sometime in the future in which every year young men and women from each of twelve poor districts of Panem (roughly what is now the US) are chosen by lottery to compete in the Hunger Games. They compete in lavish, televised games for the amusement of the wealthy, capital until only one tribute remains alive. My younger daughter and I have read the three books, and had seen all the movies, except for this final one. My husband has seen the movies, and my son-in-law has seen some of the movies. In truth, Mockingjay, Part 2, was not a great movie, but it was enjoyable, and it was a perfect excuse to get together. Jennifer Lawrence embodies Katniss Everdeen, brave, fierce, and stubborn. Donald Sutherland is perfect as evil President Snow. (Here is the New York Times’s review of the movie.)

So if my daughter and her husband were going to come over to watch the movie, then we have to have food, right?  So it went something like this.

What a wonderful idea, we thought,

a Hunger Games party to view the final movie.

We’ll cook together, and sip wine.

E-mails flew back and forth–

“I think I need to make pita bread,” I said,

(One of the characters is named Peeta.)

“And should we have something flaming?”

“Oh yesss!!!” she said.

“I’m excited now—and ready for this week to be over.”

“I’m excited, too!” I replied.

She decided to make hot wings “for the men.”

We discussed timing, and who should make what.

“I have two ovens, we should be able to work things, out.

Besides, we’re both good at improvising.”

And so we did.

Dancing in the kitchen to Zumba music,

while cooking and sipping wine,

our husbands worked on math in the dining room. We are nerds. Truth.

One cat oversaw the kitchen work, while the other one slept upstairs.

We decided on one large goat cheese-apple tart because I have a tart pan that needed to be used.

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Baked brie with blackberries marinated in wine.

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Prepared while the men’s wings cooked in one oven.

I made the pita bread and the roasted red pepper dip in advance.

So mother-daughter team made enough food for forty rather than four—

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you’ll understand if you know us.

But we enjoyed every bite.

After the movie, we made a flambé, a tribute to “the girl who was on fire”: bananas cooked in brown sugar, butter, and flamed with rum. Soundtrack: “Fireball.”

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We served it over homemade pineapple curd and vanilla ice cream, and sat at the kitchen table and talked of the past, present, and future. Mother and daughter danced in our seats to “Fireball.” This is how family myths are created—epic stories to retell of love and food shared. We love each other. Real or not real? Real.

Recipes:

Roasted Red Pepper/Walnut Dip

Goat Cheese and Apple Tarts

Pita Bread

Caribbean Bananas Flambé with Pineapple Curd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections in Time and Space

Monday Morning Musings:

“It is just inevitable. The soul wanders in the dark, until it finds love. And so, wherever our love goes, there we find our soul.”

–Mary Zimmerman, Metamorphoses

And so, once again we’re in the ancient world.

This time, it’s Metamorphoses.

Another theater in Philadelphia,

A rippling pool

Aphrodite

Zeus

Orpheus

And Eurydice

The power of myths,

Stories,

Transformation,

And love.

The power of words

And art

Legends told and retold

For thousands of years

Gods

Who appear powerless

Are not

As long as they’re known.

They still influence us

Through the retelling

Of their tales.

For ninety minutes or so

We’re lost

In the magic of theater.

Carried along on a journey

By the actors

Whose words and movements

In and around that pool

Remind us of the strength of

Long ago myths

And their connection

To us now.

A special treat for subscribers.

A special treat for subscribers.

The next day,

Across the river

And closer to home

We’re watching theater

Of another sort,

Revolutionary War Era soldiers.

It’s a reenactment,

Of course.

The day is brisk,

The leaves starting to turn

Red and gold.

A cannon booms,

A squirrel scurries up a tree

The child in front of me says

“The sound makes my chest hurt.”

But old bones

Shards of vessels

Long shattered

And old cannonballs

Lay in the ground beneath

Our feet

To remind us of lives

Gone.

The bits and pieces tell a tale.

The past buried

And unearthed.

Perhaps ghosts

Still wander here.

****

An hour later

We’re on to a wine festival.

My husband, daughter, and I.

Nectar of the gods.

We taste

And enjoy.

In truth,

We’re a bit buzzed

By the end.

But in vino veritas.

And though the stories

Of women,

The poor,

The servants,

And slaves

Are often forgotten

And left untold

I’m sworn to tell them.

But perhaps not just yet

After all

The wine.

Celebrating with Dionysus,

Clio will have to wait.

****

Across space and time

My mind wanders

Seeking a connecting thread.

From ancient Greeks

To the Quaker woman,

Centuries later who

Nursed the soldiers

Wounded in battle

At her farm.

She was a pacifist.

I imagine her criticizing voice

Grumbling at the soldiers

On both sides of the conflict.

“Is this the way to serve God?

The farmland destroyed

And young men killed,

Maimed,

And scarred.

And yet she tries to heal

Their bodies

Though their souls may

Be lost.

The cruel irony

Of war.

I stand in her garden.

Her house still there

Overlooking the river.

Her secrets long buried

Like the detritus of war

And household scraps.

All who truly

Knew her

Gone, too.

My words now

Scattered into the world

By way of devices

She could not imagine.

Perhaps in hundreds of years

Someone will read them

With some newer device.

Perhaps that person will wonder

About me,

A woman long dead,

Who thought about myths

And the power of love

Who enjoyed wine

And wrote about

Ordinary people

Who though no longer alive

Lived on

In her mind

Like reflections in a mirror

That stretch on

In a never ending line

Through time

And space.

Rippling figures

Words

And myths

Connecting past

And future.

Transformed.

Smoke and illusions-- British soldiers at Red Bank Battlefield

Smoke and illusions–
British soldiers
at Red Bank Battlefield

Here are the places we visited this weekend.

And not to worry, son-in-law was our designated driver to and from the wine festival.

Arden Theatre

Red Bank Battlefield

Autumn Wine Festival at Riverwinds