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The Unnatural Cook

a chronicle of weekly meal plans from someone who can't just throw a meal together

Last night I went to an infuriating reading. It doesn’t have much to do with nachos, I know. But it did mean that I didn’t get to have dinner with my kids so that I could listen to an old white man tell a young white man that he couldn’t hope to become a public intellectual. What he meant by this was that there was no such thing anymore as an agreed upon canon of text by which the world could be understood and judged. The definition of what an intellectual needed to know had changed (the writers and philosophers the old man loved were falling out of favor) and therefore, the young man could never hope to be what the old man was. In the same breath, the old man professed to be a liberal and a fierce supporter of democracy. Clearly, what he meant by that was that people who didn’t look like him (think black or with breasts) should be educated enough so that they could think like him but not educated so much that they actually dared to change the the world of ideas he lived in. He, like all of us, was overwhelmed by the profusion of information now available and his conclusion was that nobody could hope to make sense of it.

The kids were in bed by the time I finally got to eat my nachos; my husband and I had a rare dinner alone. I made him promise that we would never get old that way. That we would never condemn those who come after us for not being us; for having been necessarily changed by our ever changing world. I was thinking of my children, of course. And I was thinking of how strong the conservative tug is that pulls at our sleeve as we age. Be careful, it can rip your shirt right off.

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