“In addition to the chocolate cake there is a crepe dessert prepared by Glynnis at the table, a light, delicious, orange and raspberry- flavored crepe, new to most the company, made with Chartreuse. How lovely, Glynnis thinks as the crepes flame up: that low bluish purple flame, a sort of child’s magic, and the aroma of alcohol and sugar; how lovely, how sad, things coming to an end.”
This is what Glynnis, cook book author and socialite, and soon to be deceased wife laments as the birthday dinner for her husband that she planned and labored over so meticulously comes to an end. Joyce Carol Oats’ 1989 novel American Appetite is the story of an unraveling American dream that takes place in a glittering glass house where elegant dinners are hosted by power couple, Ian and Glynnis McCullough. The quote above prophetically announcing her own demise comes from one of the early chapters entitled “Celebration” that sets the complex stage by juxtaposing an elaborately descriptive analysis of the dinner courses served against fragmented confessions of infidelity.
While the dinner courses set a mood of abundance, skill and luxury, the dessert marks the violent bittersweet end. Food in this novel takes on a significant role in characterizing both Glynnis and the lifestyle of the McCulloughs. I havent’ finished reading the book yet. At the moment Ian is charged with murdering his wife by pushing her through one of their glass walls. I wonder if the book ends with a very different kind of meal?
How would I describe myself or my life through dinners I serve (hopefully that do not involve me being murdered…yikes!)?
A snack on the kitchen counter? A bowl of meatballs on a big round wood table for five? A pot of curry and rice for three? Or paper plates piled with pizza and wings in front of the television? Or a cup of tea in a low red chair that looks out towards the stop sign at the end of the cul-de-sac? All of the above?
How does food color and stage your life?
Wishing you happy desserts in appreciation of a good meal (instead of Glynnis’ sad desserts and insatiable appetite),