Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Chana Masala. Feminism.

I've been trying to be better about planning meals for the week. We did a major Fairway run weekend before last and I purchased tons of dried beans in the bulk aisle, and my new plan is while I'm cooking Monday's meal, for example, to put beans on to soak for Tuesday or Wednesday. They taste better, less cans, cheaper, etc. I had forgotten to do this Sunday night and so Monday morning I asked Trey to put a big bunch of navy beans in water for me as well as two cups of chickpeas -- the navy beans got eaten in a delicious stew I made Monday that I christened "Everything In The World Good For You In One Fucking Pan" and that I didn't get around to photographing, so perhaps that recipe will some another time. Last night I had the chickpeas which had been soaking for a day and a half, and figured I'd make hummus for the week and then chana masala, since we'd had soups 4 days straight-ish.

I looked at several recipes, and realized that I wanted to incorporate the Madras Curry Paste that I had made a few weeks ago in order to make a spicy eggplant and black eyed pea dish that was mindblowing and now I can't find the link to it. Never in my life did I think I would be making my own curry paste, but it takes 5 minutes and it is out of this world. Especially since we had gotten the organic ginger from Fairway, which is, not to get all GOOP on you, a world away from any other ginger I've ever tasted.

Having an immersion blender is a revelation. The best thing about making the curry paste this way is the smell when the ingredients start to blend and the coriander and mustard seeds are being crushed, a blast of perfume hits your brain. I made extra so I can do more things with this later in the week.
I get really geeky about turmeric and its health benefits. I wish I could make the blog scratch-and-sniff.

While I was making the paste, I was cooking the chickpeas (it took about 1.5 hours, but that is no problem when you are eating artichoke paste on flatbreads and having a nice Primitivo! Also roasting garlic for the hummus I would be making, and prepping a medium onion and 5 cloves of garlic for the chana masala. I am blown away by how true it is that dry beans have a lot more personality than canned ones. The chickpeas were really tender and sweet, the best tasting ones yet, I think they benefited from extra soaking.

I added some olive oil to the big pan, let some cumin seeds toast in there, and then the fuse blew. FUCK! After that was resolved, and the pan heated up again, I sauteed one medium onion, diced, and some chopped garlic and sprinked with sea salt and let them soften. Once soft, I added a big wad of the curry paste (around a tablespoon and a half) and some tomato paste.

I let this cook some, and the realized it seemed that I'd need more liquid, so I added 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup of the red wine I was drinking, also a teaspoon-ish of garam masala.

I decided it needed 1/2 can of crushed tomatoes and another big wad of curry paste. This did the trick, and then I added black pepper and two big handfuls of baby spinach. Awesome!

What else is going on? Who cares. It's cold, the dogs are great, Trey and I are fine, I have a job. I'm tired of ranting about things. Oh! except there is one thing that has been on my mind lately, and it is why in the hell women squirm away from 1) the term feminism and 2) are reluctant to identify themselves as feminists.

On a blog I read a lot, a Brooklyn mom blog, the author asked her readers to comment on what feminism meant to them. When I said that to me it was very simple -- the belief that men and women should have equal legal, political and social rights and dignity, and that each person has sovereignty over him or herself -- I was criticized for "sounding like a dictionary." Which made my blood boil, because, well, if you go to THE DICTIONARY that is WHAT FEMINISM MEANS. It's very simple. 2+2=4 simple.

The complicated part is the question, What in our day to day lives can be considered a "feminist" act or "anti-feminist" and this is what I think that this blogger was trying to explore, but the fact that there was uncertainty around what feminism itself WAS, was ringing proof that feminism remains hella necessary. You can discuss "is wearing makeup feminist? is it value neutral? is it oppressive" all day long, but that doesn't change what feminism as a principle IS, just as the fact that you can have four oranges or four mansions or four kittens or a four-chambered heart doesn't change the FOURness of 4. What makes me insane is that all the baloney and fear and weirdness around the term feminism, which should be as simple as "four", is an index of just how deeply, deeply ingrained misogyny is in our country. Just because you can have women in successful political positions, that women vote, that women can drive, blah blah blah, is not enough if to even SAY that you are a feminist is a source of any kind of frisson of weirdness or nascent shame. What the fuck? I mean, do you really not believe that you are equal to a man? Not in physical strength, not in having to join the Marines, not in having to slave away in an office, but as a HUMAN BEING, do you really not believe you are equal? Think about this! Really THINK about it.

Because once you do, you'll realize that there are two kinds of people in the world (men and women alike): Feminists, and assholes. It really is that simple, and that is why I think it is so scary to so many people, because we still, for all our freedoms, live in a world where Living While Female is a crime punishable by rape and death, and in an atomistic culture like ours that encourages these fantasies of exceptionalism, it's really sobering to have to admit that there is still a shitton of change that needs to happen. The Supreme Court, in Gonzales vs. Carhart, has decreed that I do not know what is best for my own body and life. Doctors are allowed to withhold medical care from me because of my sex. If doctors refused treatment to black people, there would be outrage. There is much less when the victim is a woman. Internalized misogyny is everywhere. It sucks, but it's better to stare it down, down, down.

I see this in lots of parenting blogs as well. The apotheosis of the internalized misogyny of mom-bloggery to me was in the title of that Salon column, "Mothers Who Think."
"Mothers Who Think."

As opposed to?

As opposed to all the other bovine mothers out there, placidly squeezing baby after baby out of their fuckholes, their sad MFA-less cunts? Who says that mothers aren't thinking about shit all the time? In fact, maybe lots of mothers are too busy thinking about all kinds of things to submit their writing to Salon? Why wasn't this shit called out immediately? "It's okay to be a mother, because I maintain my MASCULINE THINKING WRITING BRAIN ALSO, I'm not a MERE WOMAN." Why doesn't Salon have a column titled "Black Folks Who Don't Steal Shit"? It really is THAT offensive, but this shit is the water we swim in and we don't even notice anymore.

Are you a feminist? Yes. You. Are.


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