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  • Real (but Inauthentic) (or authentic, but not real?) Or, real and authentic?

    Last night, after taking my mother-in-law, ML, to the lawyer to sign for a durable Power of Attorney so that we can take care of her finances now that she's moving to assisted living (with her approval), we invited her to dinner, since she would miss dinner at assisted living and we wanted a chance to visit with her. Because our garden is overflowing with produce right now, cranking out more yellow squash, green squash and other vegetables than we can eat, I decided to make "Ratatouille" for dinner. I did some reading and research on ratatouille first.

    I read that traditional ratatouille, though sometimes served as a main dish, is usually served as a side dish with meat and pasta. In the interest time and simplicity, I decided to put the meat and pasta directly into the ratatouille and make ratatouille soup, otherwise known as a ratatouille-like substance. In my home, there are many substances: gumbo-like substances, bouillabaisse-like substances, jambalaya-like substances, etc.

    My guess is that in Provence, where ratatouille originated, it was a very flexible meal. You took what you had in the vegetable garden and combined it with what you had in the herb garden, and had a meal. In the movie, Ratatouille, they call it a "peasant" meal. The peasants probably did not go in for Haut Cuisine. My goal was (and usually is) to 1)use the food I have on hand from the garden (or in the winter, from the store or freezer), 2)provide a balanced meal with all the food groups necessary for a healthy life and 3)make something that tastes good to me and to the other people eating it.
  • On the way home from the lawyer (we had to take separate cars), I stopped at the Village Market to get sausages, eggplants and pasta (Our eggplants aren't as far along as the yellow and green squash.).

    I stood in the kitchen cutting and chopping for almost 45 minutes. I tossed everything into a big pot that had leftover broth from a previous meal. After a while, bingo, soup. A lot of soup. I called it "Ratatouille Soup."

    Someone asked about the authenticity of having sausage and pasta in the soup. Actually, Ratatouille is not usually a soup at all, it's something plopped down off a spoon onto a plate. That might be fun to make, too. In this case, ratatouille soup was a creative choice, my own take on the suggested meal. Why not? I guess some people would disapprove, but authenticity was not my primary goal.

    Sometimes, I wonder if the person asking the questions feels as if authenticity is what's important. I started feeling a little defensive. Maybe I should not call the soup "Ratatouille soup," even though the squash, eggplants, tomatoes, basil and parsley are the main ingredients, supposedly, in ratatouille.

    This gets me thinking about authenticity. My allergies often cause a problem with making "authentic foods." I am so used to making adjustments in recipes that it seems like the normal and appropriate thing to do. It also seems smart to use food from the garden that we have in abundance rather than buying produce we don't have.
  • I think of antiques. I am not an antique collector. I do like and appreciate antiques in stores, museums and in other people homes. They are pretty and sometimes, the workmanship is superior to modern furniture. They are authentic (if fact they actually are authentic.) But often, they are NOT the most comfortable or practical items.

    Same with style. I was going to say, "Who cares?" Obviously, someone does! Many someones! I'm not one of them--that's probably obvious. It's not that I don't want to look nice, I do. But stylish women's clothing tends to be stupid, uncomfortable, impractical (lacking pockets), expensive and short-lived, in other words, nearly the antithesis of what I want in clothes. I want comfortable, reasonably priced, long-lasting and attractive clothing. "Classic" sometimes works well.

    And bags? I have some Louis Vuitton bags, which are well-made and strong, but not worth, in my mind, all the extra money for the label. I didn't buy them, but I do enjoy using them. A well-made knock-off might work just as well.

    As I am writing this (while walking, as usual), I am passing a house nearly at the end of my loop. The entire frontage along the road is covered with bushes cut off at the base, and the house sits nearly bare, naked of foundation plantings. They really cleaned it up (butchered it). It reminds of the time my mother's neighbors forced themselves on her to "clean up her yard" and basically mowed, sawed everything down to the ground and planted a few puny little withered stubs in their place. They reduced her beautiful landscaping and gardens to the Mojave Desert. With those people for friends, who needs enemies?
  • No, I don't need "authentic" fashions, bags, etc. Knock-offs are OK and hand-made items even better. I don’t need "authentic" ratatouille if my own ratatouille is healthy, tastes good and includes lots of food from my own garden I don't need authentic antiques if I have useful, attractive furniture, but what I do need, in the face of memories of my mother’s idiot friends, are authentic friends and authentic relationships.

    What exactly is an authentic friend and an authentic relationship? I think real, authentic relationships are a lot like my ratatouille soup and my special gumbo soup. Each is different. They are made with fresh, home-grown ingredients like trust, honesty, caring, and sharing. They include growth, support, interest, time and attention. It’s time, attention and honesty that makes an authentic friend. A real friend would never force, dictator like, their beliefs on someone else. While I think real time “together” helps grow friendships, I believe I have some real friendships online with people I've never met—right here at cowbird etc. We spend time “together” conversing and getting to know each other. I feel as if I would be genuinely welcomed by some of you, and I know I would welcome you here.
  • Image: A quick computer "self-portrait" sketch with "fresh paint" app, with no mirror and no photograph to look at. I started making myself look young and pretty (as I tend to to try to do when painting myself, ahem), and then decided to try (without looking at myself) to make it really look like I look now (not so young and pretty.) Well, I'm not sure I was very successful--a mirror or photo would have helped. I actually haven't memorized my own face! I said to myself things like, well my face is squarer than it used to be. I have lines between my brows. My hair is pretty grey, especially on top. I have large dark eyebrows. I'm extremely tired and probably look it. I did this last night during a bout of insomnia. (I also worked on the tulips portion of the triptych.)
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