Poor Man's Feast is returning.
(It actually never left.)
IN 2008, I LAUNCHED AN EXPERIMENT.
Over Christmas break, using a free platform and a banner image* designed by my wife, Susan Turner, I decided to see whether or not blog readers would be drawn to long form narrative about sustenance and nurturing.
I was assured they wouldn’t. I was told that people really only ever want practical food writing. Quick recipes. In-and-out. How to roast a chicken. How to poach an egg. I had a sense, though, that readers wanted more. And I had more to say then Preheat oven to 375.
I wanted to say Here, sit, tell me your table story, and I will tell you mine.
2008 was, at turns, a remarkable year, and a deplorable one. On the one hand, there was hope, and cause for much celebration. Barack Obama was about to be inaugurated. Elizabeth Alexander would stand at the lectern and read Praise Song for the Day, and the words
I know there's something better down the road.We need to find a place where we are safe. We walk into that which we cannot yet see.
Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
We needed hope. And we needed sustenance. Our hearts needed nurturing and shoring up. Earlier in 2008, the market had crashed. On September 29th, the Dow Jones plummeted 777.68 percent. Jobs were lost. Homes were lost. We came perilously close to losing ours. A few months prior, my beloved little cousin, the composer and musician Harris Wulfson, suffering from profound mental illness, took his own life a few days before his birthday.
So there was hope. And there was tragedy.
A light here requires a shadow there, wrote Virginia Woolf in To The Lighthouse.
I sank into a depression that was ineffable. I found myself drawn back to the table and the kitchen, to the act of sustaining myself and the people I love; I wrote about it. It helped.
And over Christmas break, after I was fervently assured that I was wasting my time, I launched Poor Man’s Feast with no plan for it beyond being a place where people could come and read my table stories, and tell me — and each other — theirs. It would go on to be nominated for three James Beard Awards, and win in 2012. When asked what it was about, I described it this way:
Poor Man’s Feast is about sustenance in the face of pretense, and authenticity in the face of the artificial. It’s about simplicity instead of the tarted-up. It’s about kindness in the face of the rude. It’s about storytelling — mine, my family’s, yours, your family’s — and how those stories are inextricably bound up with what and how we feed ourselves and those we love, what we eat at times of joy, sorrow, delight, surprise, fear, and sadness. It is about whatever sustains us, be it food, art, music, story. It is about how we sustain ourselves and our hearts, those of the people we love, and our environment.
So, all these years later, I am moving Poor Man’s Feast here. I hope you enjoy it, and look forward to your comments.
(Will there be recipes? Yes. There will be recipes. Not with every post, but with many of them.)
(Will it cost me anything? Not yet. But I will move it to paid subscriber format in coming weeks.)
I look forward to engaging with you, and hearing your own stories of sustenance.