This spring, the Iowa City Press Co-Op put together a cookbook in the form of a portfolio print exchange. It's a very non-traditional cookbook, and while most of it does involve food, the idea of recipes is very wide-ranging, and all the artists involved produced very different interpretations in a variety of beautiful ways. My recipe is shown above.
I'm proud of it because it's a well-designed and well-executed print, and a technical challenge that I was able to meet. I'm also proud of it because it's explicitly personal, and my previous work only dealt with personal things in an abstracted way. It's honest about who I am and how I got here, even if the path sometimes seems (to me) incredibly dorky and weird (more about that tomorrow).
All in all, the exchange is beautiful and I'm most proud to be part of a group of artists who create such diverse work. If you want to support the Iowa City Press Co-Op and get a copy of the cookbook, you can do that here, at the ICPC online store.
Full text of the recipe:
- Get some stuff at the grocery store that you think you might wanna eat, like frozen stir fry & chicken thighs & crackers & stuff.
- Also consider that really good pork dish you made last week & how there’s totally sauce left from that
- So I recognize now that I’m a lesbian. This goes a long way towards explaining how confused I was in high school because I Noticed Girls all right, and I was in love with them, but I also wanted to be one, and what with heterosexuality being compulsory and that, I just thought “Well obviously I’m a straight guy and my desire to be a girl can just go into the Weird Night Thoughts box.”
- Get a cookbook & find a recipe you want to make. (Oven-Fried Chicken, How To Cook Everything, Page 657, for example).
- Substitute cornmeal and flour for breadcrumbs so you don’t have to go back to the store because anyway it’s RAINING and that’s just not even worth it.
- Invent some side dishes to go with your chicken. Include rice because you have rice.
- Figure you don’t have to start cooking for like 20 minutes & lay on your bed.
- In college I said I was a gay man, since I thought that was the only way I could access femininity and being straight just felt weird. I guess I wasn’t really wrong so much as just misaligned? But I still felt alienated from the idea of sex and intimacy, and began to identify as Asexual, which I still do, to a certain extent.
- An hour later get up & start getting the chicken ready.
- Put the chicken in the oven & wait a bit to start the rice & the stir fry.
- But then after a while I got super into cartoon lesbians (Marceline/Princess Bubblegum from Adventure Time, specifically) and had to really reckon with Why and at last accepted and embraced the fact that I’m a girl and I like girls.
- Turn off the smoke alarm.
- STIR THAT FRY!
- Make some instant brown rice! How much? Just guess, you’ll eat it eventually.
- Leftover sauce goes on the stir fry & smells strongly of lime and fish sauce.
- I didn’t have any kind of real Sexual Awakening until like a year and a half ago, when I found myself immersed in the fanart/fanfiction from Steven Universe (I was/am super in love with Jasper). Naturally there’s Smut of all kinds, but it was the first time I’d encountered depictions of sexuality that were really by/for queer women.
- Turn off the smoke alarm again.
- The chicken’s probably done by now. Check to see if the juice runs clear at the bone.
- It also turned out to be the first time I felt an emotional connection to sexual intimacy. Instead of feeling alienated and like it was Off-Limits To Me, I actually wanted to be part of an intimate relationship with another person, with all the messiness that entails. It’s still going to take work to heal, and learn to trust, and accept and express love, but I finally feel like I’m working towards something positive in my life.
- Plate your chicken & rice & stir fry. Open a beer or drink water or whatever you do.
- Enjoy your dinner & say a prayer of thanks for queer lady love & good fanfiction.