Cleaving

RESOURCES

Links

Fleisher’s

Fleisher’s blog

The Meathook
Blog of celebrity chef Tom Mylan

Not Eating Out In NY
Cathy Erway has one of my favorite food blogs, Not Eating Out In NY. What started out is a challenge to not eat out at all while living in New York City for a year has spawned a passionate blog about sustainable food, the Brooklyn food scene, and cooking wonderful food with good ingredients at home, even if home is a tiny studio apartment.

Casserole Crazy
Emily Farris is a peripatetic blogger and great sensualist, currently living in meat-friendly Kansas City.  She’s written about food, sex, thrift and dating all over the internet, but her current project is spreading the joy of casserole to a new generation.

Whedonesque
Cleaving is a story of marriage, meat and obsession... and one of those obsessions is with all things Joss Whedon.  Here’s where the die-hards among us get all our Whedonalia...

 

Books

The River Cottage Meat Book
by Hugh Fearley-Whittingstall
This gorgeous, exhaustive, and passionate tome on the importance of responsible husbandry and what to do with the meat that results from it is a must-read for all thoughtful meat eaters and courageous cooks.

The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating
by Fergus Henderson
UK chef Henderson is mad for offal, and determined to use every part of the animals he cooks, from lamb’s brains herring semen.  Much of this book you’ll read more to get the creative juices than to glean for practical culinary information, but it will get you thinking about everything that every part of every animal has to offer.  And there some great and accessible recipes in there as well.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma
by Michael Pollan
Now a classic, this book really pushed the conversation about the transparency (or, mostly, the lack thereof) in the big business of American food production into the mainstream national consciousness.  Pollan continues to be a powerful advocate for making profound fundamental changes in the way Americans produce and consume food.

Eating Animals
by Jonathan Safer Foer
I confess that I read this book with my eyes sort of permanently glued to the top of my head; there is something sanctimonious in the writings of many passionate vegetarians to which I am allergic.  But his rigorous pursuit of discovering just what he can face eating, ethically speaking, is engaging and authentic.  Foer and I are not so different, as it turns out: we both have become extraordinarily concerned with the provenance the food we feed ourselves and our families, and seek to address the moral questions that surround the eating of animals.  It’s just that I can live with eating the meat of a humanely slaughtered pig, and he can’t.

What to Eat
by Marion Nestle
A nutritionist and consumer advocate, Nestle in this book takes us on a disconcerting journey through our local supermarkets, pointing out all the ways that advertisers and corporations try to lure us away from wholesome foods to the processed, packaged, and empty.  A disturbing read, it is also an empowering one; when grocery shopping, forewarned is fore-armed.

Consider the Lobster
by David Foster Wallace
I’m a huge DFW fan, and think all of his work is worth a careful read.  He can be a daunting writer to tackle, and I think this collection of his essays is an excellent way into his work.  And the title essay, originally published in Gourmet magazine, is a conscientious examination of our relationships with iconic foods and the creatures sacrificed to create them.

The Nasty Bits
by Anthony Bourdain
In his follow-up to Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain shows a (slightly) gentler side.  But he’s no softie, and he’ll still crack on the head, metaphorically anyway, any culinary wusses who shy away from utter, wild ecstasy in the face of great, meaty, guts-and-all food.

Corked
by Kathryn Borel
In this fantastic memoir with a bite, Borel, in the wake of a life-changing accident, tentatively explores and deepens her relationship with her difficult, fascinating father during a tipsy tour of the wine regions of France.  This book is just what a food (well, wine)-related memoir should be - honest and delicious.

Against Marriage
by Laura Kipnis
Often thought-provoking, occasionally hilarious, and always firmly tongue-in-cheek, Kipnis’ skewering of the institution we are all supposed to aspire to is ultimately less a disparagement of committed relationships than a criticism of our tendency to mindlessly swallow the Hallmark-ready conventions of contemporary marriage.

 

CLEAVING Reading Group Guide Discussion Questions

Julie Powell takes us deep inside the intricacies of working in a butcher shop. What did you find particularly fascinating—or off-putting—about these details?

Does reading the book make you more inclined to visit a local butcher shop? Have you ever felt the same draw toward butchers as Julie does?

Conscientious eating has been in the news and the culture more and more recently. How do the practices at Fleischer’s measure up for you in this debate? What do you consider “eating well”?

Julie witnesses a pig being slaughtered at a pig farm. What did you make of this scene? Would you be able to watch such a thing? Or partake?

In CLEAVING we learn more about Julie’s relationship with her husband, Eric. Why do you think they stay together, even when the trouble starts?

If you were Julie, and faced with the return of a past lover, how would you have reacted similarly or differently to the situation?

What do you make of Julie’s decision to sequester herself in the Catskills and apprentice herself to a team of butchers? What obsessive projects have you plunged yourself into to make a change in your life? Does it ever work?

What did you make of the crew at Fleischer’s? Is it true that butchers are a different breed, do you think?

What did you make of Julie’s affair with D? Was it understandable? Reprehensible? Sympathetic?

Julie reveals that Eric is also seeing someone on the side. How did you react to this? Is it “only fair”? Does it cast Julie’s own indiscretions in a different light?

What did you think about Julie’s around-the-world journey to visit butchers? Where in the world would you go to experience food?

Do you think the trip changed her? Why or why not?

What do you make of the book’s title?