Worlds of Taste
Food in the world of Francesca Lia Block
Part 4 :: Ecstasia
(Francesca Lia Block, 1993)
Ecstasia is one of FLB's longer novels. It's a rich, complex story involving the lives of a group of friends in a sort of magical, post-apocoliptic LA, where only the young live above ground, dancing and twirling through a life of sweets and liquors and music and colors, while the old-- ashamed of their age-- go Underground to live out the rest of their lives in a haze of drugs and/or death. Those who choose neither chance the dessert around the city, while some find solace in the hallucinogenic drugs the Underworld has to offer.
The world is vivid and rich, and while I had trouble getting through it the first time (it's more dense than her others, and takes a little longer) it is so beautiful it's hard to forget.
I'd actually read the sequel first (Primavera) and got through it easier, but they're both so wonderful it doesn't even matter. Lovely writing, lush descriptions. Most of the descriptions show food in it's relation to luxury/pleasure. The youth Above eat and drink to celebrate life, but to the main characters it eventually feels shallow and fleeting. I wasn't sure how these descriptions felt, when here out of context, but they still hold that sort of... cynical...longing tone, which I think is interesting.
I felt the words should be dark and glittering, like stars dancing.
As I was going through the text, I felt like the words should be thick, black, dreamy. And the food of Elysia-- cakes, candy, sugar, champagne-- would be shades of pink, while the food of the dessert-- fruits, vegetables (life)-- would be their own appropriate colors..
"...where a mechanical doll with clocks set in her eye sockets served fluorescent drinks." (5)
"Huge oval mirrors in frames of silver roses reflected the tapestry cushions and the urns holding candy,..." (5)
"..swallowing the chocolate-mint liqueur from a bottle, licking his lips." (6)
"...to paint herself like an opal, eat cakes, to dance all day." (8)
"'He says he's addicted to Elysia. To all the sugar-things. He's a sugar-head,' the girl said." (10)
"The water will shine over their bodies, will fill their mouths. They will lose themselves in flowers and eat fruits that drop into their hands." (13)
"'Knocking myself against those sparkling glass windows to get inside to the champagne and the champagne-colored light.'" (15)
"Your father and I drank plum liqueur, and we watched the fireworks..." (18)
"You taste better than all the wines. You taste like crystal nectar. And you glow like wine in a glass." (27)
"Some people dressed in frilled baby costumes drank alcohol from nippled bottles." (31)
"This is the taste of longing-- like pomegranate. A thin film of translucent sweet coating the tiny, hard, white cores." (36)
"...as he drank from a big bottle of raspberry liqueur, thick with fruit." (44)
"'We could go eat or dance or get a drink. Dessert? Everything?'" (44)
"Lily ordered angel hair pasta, summer squash soup, persimmon salad, strawberry shortcake, a champagne cocktail.
'You know how to order,' he said. 'Most girls I know seem scared of food.'" (45)
"Calliope took the cake layers out of the oven and began to spread them with jam." (52)
"'Does she eat enough?' His sister was swirling the pale chocolate cream onto the cake." (53)
"Lily pour two glasses of water from a carafe. The candle flames reflected in them." (56)
"Paul walked by eating fluorescent candy." (58)
"We would drink the coffee
swallow it all up
until the night was gone
leaving bare white dawn
the bare white cup..." (66)
"...where couples sat eating cake, drinking champagne, pouring champagne on their cake." (74)
"Some pretty stuff for a while, some sweet stuff, some spirits in a bottle..." (98)
"...veiled women dancing, lynx cats striding, reclining men lifting flasks of nectar to their lips." (98)
"If only I could take away the bottle that stains your lips. You say I am your wine. Let me be your wine." (99)
"...Paul's eyes across the table, cool, starry as the eyes of the luminous, looming dolls, while he ate his cake and ice cream. 'What happened to Rafe-sugar-head?' Paul asked one afternoon when Rafe ordered only sparkling water. 'I'm trying to quit.'" (110)
"Paul pushed aside the piece of layer cake drowning in chocolate ice cream." (111)
"They had eaten pastries for dinner..." (121)
"They don't want to give up all the circuses and cakes to work. To live." (132)
"He reached into his pockets and took out a handful of candy stars. The lights seemed to flash to the beat of the music that drifted up through the streets as Paul stood, eating his candy."
"Only when I drank the wine they slipped me at the long gold table did I forget. We all forgot." (141)
"...I was addicted to the glass garden and the fountains and the platters of iced rum cakes." (143)
Calliope reached into her pocket and took out some of the chocolate wafers Dionisio loved. The little girl popped them into her mouth and closed her eyes for a moment, like an addict who has finally retrieved the drug. She skipped away singing to herself, 'Butterfly flutter by, sweet meat meat sweet, sugar pie, pie in the sky.'" (153)
"Will you grow up gnawing on candy, addicted to the sweetness you savored in your mother's milk?" (153)
"...past a bar where people dressed in kimonos and high black wigs sat on pillows drinking sake and staring out the glass walls..." (154)
"And he was cracking open the blood-colored husk of the orb. And he was prying apart the insides. And he was ripping the small, bright kernel from the honeycomb sheath..." (160)
"He only needs to hold out his hand the the plums will drop-- the color of his curls and the flavor of his lips." (160)
"This sky of leaves, plums, peaches, grapes, apple blossoms." (161)
"...he would take me with him to get ice cream and give me dolls..." (165)
"I will.... eat the cakes and drink the champagne and go below when I am supposed to go below." (168)
"...hallucinations of gaping-mouthed plums are taunting him." (172)
"Dionisio and Paul will feed her wine and jams and sugared violets." (173)
"This man has dark curls and smells of fruit and smoke." (175)
"...mechanical dolls serving parfaits and exotic drinks with parasols to the beautiful children." (188)
"They were always hungry for fruits, vegetables, grains, thirsty for fountains, pools, lakes..." (192)