Worlds Of Taste
Food in the world of Francesca Lia Block
Part Two: The Hanged Man
(Francesca Lia Block, 1994)
I love The Hanged Man. It's one of my favorites. The descriptions are light and ethereal and beautiful. Harsh beauty full of pain and fear. There's a surprising amount of food mentioned, considering it's about a girl struggling with anorexia. But maybe that's the way it really is. Maybe when you deny yourself food, all that's left to do is think about it. To see it everywhere. Either way the images are strong and full, and the emotion connected to them deep and pure.
I love this book. For this one I started coloring the food words with the colors I thought of when I heard them. Cake...pink or blue...Ginger...gold...wine...purple...red.
"...he says hello and his voice is the best thing-- it cracks like ice when you pour the liquor over." 
"Past the canyon market where I worked last summer, packing bags full of yogurts, avocados, peaches, and wine for the canyon people..." 
"...where Claudia and I drink coffee (mine black, hers sugary and milky brown)..." 
"I go into the kitchen and put some plums and a slice of buttered, home-baked bread onto a blue and white plate from Holland. I fill a glass with water and squeeze some lemon in. I put everything on a tray with the real butterflies pressed under glass." 
"My mother is cooking and cooking. She buys turkeys and reaches inside of them and takes out what is there and rubs the flesh all over with garlic and stuffs them with vegetables and bakes them in the oven....The kitchen smells of garlic and animal and yeast from the breads my mother bakes. My mother bakes breads and she makes them in the shapes of women with breasts, or mermaids with braids, of fat animals and moons with faces." 
"But I won't eat all that candy Hansel and Gretel ate. I will be thin and pure like a glass cup. Empty. Pure as light. Music." 
"Claudia buys a piece of pizza. The rich smell of scalding cheese. "You should eat," she says. But I don't take a bite." 
"The clown paints Claudia's dreams on her face. He paints crescent moons and pomegranates and crosses." 
"..."Houdini's cook has served some broiled rabbit, champagne, cake and ice cream. Pistachio. Served in top hats."..." 
"They are feasting on animals and wines and liqueurs and flaming cakes..." 
"The girl gave us ginger beers. Ginger beer burns your mouth and throat but it is dark and sweet." 
"After, we ate barbecued chicken and black beans and fried bananas ~plantain~ in a little shack at the base of the falls." 
"...I swayed on the balcony with the fireworks and the champagne in our heads exploding." 
"I imagine the pasta was made with basil and garlic and the courtyard was sunny and filled with flowers and herbs." 
"We buy watermelons, pineapples, cantaloupes, honeydew, strawberries and cut them up and put them on platters and my mother makes her punch. It is citrus-greenish-yellow color and it smokes." 
"He bought me pink spun-sugar candy and I wanted a dress like that." 
""...the colors, and stars like powdered sugar donuts and my head was a bubble of glass."" [75
"...leaving me hungry for chocolate ice cream. Everything was chocolate ice cream and kisses and wind." 
"and she is eating a piece of sweet potato pie that makes her voice sound thick and sweet." 
"My mother is cooking and cooking. She is scrubbing beets and peeling the beets and scrubbing them again....She peels the flesh off the chicken and rinses the naked breasts and legs and wings...and bakes them with pearly onions and lemons and herbs. She bakes cakes that overflow...nightmarish chocolate cakes, wicked with nuts and sugar and the chocolate that people say has the same chemical that your body releases when you are in love. She bakes these wicked love-cakes and the chocolate heats and drips and the smell fills the house." 
"She scrubs the vegetables; she keeps crystals in the kitchen. She chants sometimes." 
"When we sit he orders margaritas and tostadas. He says, "You should eat this," and he starts to put the tostada filling into the tortilla in his hand, piling on lettuce and cheese and guacamole. I watch him and drink some of my margarita. Icy and salty and sharp-sweet and making me feel that way you feel just as you're about to fall asleep...
I realize how hungry I am, how my stomach feels like an empty hand making a fist...
"You should eat," he says...
I take a slow bite looking down. The guacamole kisses my mouth. My throat feels tight but I swallow. Then I drink some more of the margarita." 
"...takes out a container of strawberry ice cream, a plastic spoon and a bottle of champagne. "Happy Birthday," he says." 
"He smells of the crushed mint from below my window." 
"The ground is littered with hot-dog wrappers, popcorn boxes, crepe paper." 
"My mother comes up to my room with a tray of strawberries and plain yogurt, a piece of fresh-baked bread spread with honey." 
"I imagine sitting in a plaza at twilight eating pasta and drinking wine, the marble statues gleaming,..." 
Also see :: Part One: Echo