The Help. The Secret Life of Bees. The Kitchen House. The books that have always comforted me and given me advice have always been about black women. More specifically, a white woman writing about black women pre-civil-rights-movement and their interactions with a sweet, endearing, non-racist white girl. None of the experiences told in these novels are remotely racially conscious, none of them truly celebrating black women. They beat the Magic Black Woman trope to a cringe-worthy death. So, once I understood this, I wasn’t sure why I didn’t immediately sell my copies and move onto some better literature.
And then I listened to Glass Animals for the first time. The winter going into 2015, I was spooning a thick fingertip-sized mound of eyeshadow onto my lid, blending, when I heard “fresh out of an icky, gooey womb / woozy youth / dopes up on her silky smooth perfume” from my iPhone speaker. “Peanut butter vibes,” “Mind my wicked words and tipsy topsy slurs,” “Tripping round the tree stumps in your summer smile,” alliteration, food and nature imagery, a voice like warm, fuzzy butter. I realized that it wasn’t the hollow experiences that I enjoyed. It was the food.
It was why I liked watching movies about the south with my dad. Always an aficionado of southern American culture, taking us to southern-themed restaurants and watching Sweet Home Alabama were among his favorite pastimes. As I grew older, learned what the confederate flag really meant, and the intricacies of American enslavement, I started to resent his favorite things. And even when I became a vegetarian, I couldn’t resist freshly made chicken and dumplings with grits pooling into warm dishes at the kitchen table. It reminded me of my favorite books; Aibileen’s chicken, August Boatwright’s love of honey. Lavinia learning the ways of the kitchen house. Why did I (literally) indulge in these narratives? It all made sense now. I love food.
Writing this is making me hungry. I want bananas and thick, creamy peanut butter with gelato for dessert. I want all of the wines they describe in the book I’m currently reading, “a rosy, yummy mess of a California sparkling wine. Drier than it was sweet,” and I’ve only had boxed wine and a few $5 bottles from the front of the package store. I want to watch the food network channel, Cupcake Wars specifically, and listen to them list the ingredients needed for the perfect lemon buttercream frosting. I want to be the girl Glass Animals describes in Season 2 Episode 3, “Leftover breakfast, cereal for lunch / she’s broken but she’s fun / my girl eats mayonnaise / from a jar while she’s getting blazed.” And I hate mayonnaise. I don’t really like weed. But they make it sound great.
A lot of things make sense now. How Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is my favorite movie. How I write down all of the restaurants I visit, and why I need to have the Zagat app on my phone even though I can’t afford to eat more than cough drops at this point in my life. TLDR: I can’t wait to go to the farmer’s market tomorrow morning.