Eating a Dead Horse: A Menu from Niina Pollari
First course: Smoked white fish, served whole with garlic sauce. Sparkling wine.
Main course: Organic baby formula and vitamins. A Coors Light (poured into a glass). A cup of water.
Dessert: Princess Cake with marzipan overlay. A coffee with a liberal splash of Bailey’s.
Fancy underwear. Overcoat that has at least one pocket filled with receipts.
DEAD HORSE always wished for a lady friend. DEAD HORSE envisions that the two of them would be like Marie and Marie in Věra Chytilová’s 1966 film Daisies: vulgar and unbearably beautiful, staying in bed all day, prank-calling boring men and fucking up decadent Communist feasts left unattended by lax hotel staff. There would be endless food and nobody would ever eat unless eating was also tied to ruining things. There would be no eating for necessity, in other words — just eating for pure anarchist joy, and to motivate forward the ambulations of the plot.
But this is fantastical.
Eating for necessity makes us animal.
“Now / Is an animal somehow.”
Nourishing someone is keeping them alive. Keeping them alive is an act of love.
As I write this I’m cooking to keep myself alive, because self-love is important. I’m listening to the pot on the stove come to a rolling boil for my potatoes, which I will mash together with roasted turnips, butter, and salt. I am telling you this because it’s important to me to write about what I do in my life. Food as written by a woman is an inherently feminist topic and as a woman who writes and eats, I am invariably sometimes writing about food.
I wish I could dedicate my night to writing and not to cooking, but to do so would require one of these three things to be true:
- I live with someone who will cook for me
- I spend money to have food delivered to me
- I don’t eat
Let’s go backwards:
- I won’t not eat, because I don’t want to talk about not eating. The idea of the “hunger artist” is ground already covered by male writers: Kafka, Hamsun. When a woman writes about not eating, the world wants to believe that she is making an anorexia memoir.
- I don’t want to spend money to have food delivered to me today because it’s the beginning of the year and I have just paid off the credit card that I used on Christmas things. (My Christmas traditions are also centered around food. The women in my family — my immediate family is all women and girls — cook for each other on December 24th; as night falls, we sit down and eat. There is no superstition, religion, or ceremony, just preparing the foods we are used to preparing, year after year.) I spent money on arriving to be with my family and to cook with them, and I just looked at my finances. Spending more money feels decadent; January has little room for excess.
- I live alone.
DEAD HORSE is about being alone and about not having money and about being a creature comprised of meat. The menu above is made of the food mentioned in the book. It is best made to share.
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