27 (Sat) March 2021
-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-
with the Family
Newbery 100 Medals, 100 Meals (42) (see 100 NEWBERY M&Ms)
While reading the 100 books that have been awarded the annual Newbery Medal since 1922, I will also attempt to create one dish for every book, a dish that is directly referenced in or indirectly inspired by the events of the book. Food plays a strong role in many of the stories; not surprising as the characters in most of the books are faced with adversity of some sort, including poverty, so they’re often very hungry and thus grateful whenever they get a bite to eat – as we all should be at every meal (i.e., give us this day our daily bread). The dishes will be featured as posts on Give Me This Day.
Dear Mr Henshaw (1984) by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Paul O Zelinsky. The book is about 6th-grader Leigh Botts, who writes fan letters to his favorite author (“Dear Mr Henshaw…”) and entries into his diary (“Dear Mr Pretend Henshaw…”) about his struggles to deal with his newly divorced parents, new school, new friends.
I liked the book. Told through Leigh’s own words, the reflections are deeply personal and painfully honest. The story is ultimately uplifting in its matter-of-factness: no happy ending, no sad ending, just telling it like it is. Beverly Cleary’s writing was revolutionary for giving her young protagonists real problems, real emotions, real reactions, real consequences.
Leigh’s mom works part-time for Katy, who runs a catering business and sets aside goodies for Leigh to be included in his school lunches. In a running side plot, an unknown classmate continues to steal food from Leigh’s lunch bag.
[paraphrased in part]
Today I was supposed to have a deviled egg. Katy buys the smallest eggs for parties so half an egg can be be eaten in one bite and won’t spill on people’s carpets. She puts a little curry powder in with the mashed-up yolk which she squirts out of a tube so it looks like a rose. At lunchtime when I opened my lunch bag, my egg was gone.
By sheer coincidence, Beverly Cleary’s death was announced today, as I was reading Dear Mr Henshaw. In fact, and I swear I’m not making this up, I was holding the book in one hand when my phone in the other hand dinged with the article from CNN (see “Children’s author Beverly Cleary, creator of Ramona Quimby, dies at age 104“). She died a couple days ago, a couple weeks shy of her 105th birthday.
The coincidence was especially poignant because Beverly Clearly was my favorite author during early elementary school. Anyone who knows me knows that I obsess over my favorite pop icons, and Beverly Cleary might’ve been the first. I absolutely adored her writing. In 3rd grade, I made it a mission to check out each of her books from the school library so many times that the librarian had to paste on a new checkout slip on the inside cover, with my name at the top. My favorite was the Henry Huggins series – when I see IZ rereading Diary of a Wimpy Kid books over and over, I know the feeling. Ramona was great. Ralph S. Mouse was okay. I remember reading Dear Mr Henshaw in 1983, when I was in 5th Grade, though I wasn’t overly enamored with it at the time (I might’ve already moved on to Judy Blume by then).
I’ve been losing my favorite pop icons recently, including Sean Connery (see 11.300 Smoked Salmon Romaine Wraps) and Alex Trebek (see 11.309 Brisket of Basilisk Treat for the King of Cats). I dread to think who will be next.
Deviled Eggs is an American dish. Consists of hard boiled eggs, cut in half, yolks removed and mashed with mayo + mustard + vinegar etc and placed back into the egg white cups, often topped with additional ingredients, such as minced pickles or chilies or caviar etc. The “deviled” refers to the addition of a spicy ingredient, like mustard. A classic American finger food, nowadays regarded somewhat as a cliché of mid-20th century suburban dinner parties.
The last time that I had deviled eggs was probably around the same time that I was actively reading Beverly Cleary, when we were living in California and my mother was experimenting with recipes by Betty Crocker.
The deviled eggs were quite nice. Creamy in texture, tangy in flavor. I added a bit of sriracha sauce in the stuffing to make it more devilish and dusted the tops with garam masala in lieu of the curry powder mentioned in the book. I look forward to a potluck opportunity when I can contribute this dish.
(See also FOODS)
(See also PLACES)