This week is banned book week... and I've gotta say I'm ALL FOR banning books. If you find a book offensive by all means throw it in the trash... educate your children on the evils of that book... burn it in a fire pit in the backyard.... remove that evil book from your life for good...and then go about your merry little way... but PLEASE allow me to do the same thing for myself and my family. Lord knows I've often thought about firing up the grill for that Chicken Soup for the Soul book that I'm using to prop up the kitchen table leg... but then I'd be left with a really unstable kitchen table. So I'll make a deal with you... I'll let you keep your Chicken Soup book if you don't try to take away my kids copy of Shel Silversteins A Light in the Attic... even if it does glorify Satan, cannibalism and suicide or encourage kids to throw the dishes on the floor rather than dry them. I'll ban books from my home and you can ban books from yours... but let's agree to leave the bookstores and libraries alone.
When I heard it was banned book awareness week I thought I would try to find a banned cookbook to write about. It turns out that the only thing that pops up when you google "banned" and "cookbook" is The Anarchist's Cookbook... and while it's not really what I had in mind it is the most famous banned book I can think of. So I decided to take a trip to my local public library to inquire about it. I checked the catalog and found no listing and so I decided to talk to one of the librarians. She told me that people ask about it all the time... and they have had copies of it in the past... but apparently most anarchists either can't be bothered to acquire a library card or they don't tend to turn their books in on time (or at all)... Go figure. "Oh, librarian, your damn cards: the good people don't need them and the bad people don't use them so what good are they?" So I reached a dead end and I can only speculate about what kind of recipes an anarchist might want to make... and wonder if they really follow recipes at all? Other than The Anarchist's Cookbook... I did find out that while it was never banned The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook had it's most famous recipe (Hashish Fudge) removed from it's first American publication. Hippies everywhere are left to decide how much hashish is too much... and frankly that makes me more uncomfortable than if the recipe was actually published.
Looking at the two examples I've given so far... you might see why people want to ban books. A book with recipes for terrorism??? and a book about cooking with illegal drugs??? What good do these books do anyone? The problem is that censorship doesn't stop there... Little House on the Prairie and Little House in the Big Woods were both banned because people felt that they were offensive to Native Americans. Like Water For Chocolate was banned due to sexual content. How to Eat Fried Worms was banned for promoting socially unacceptable behavior and promoting gambling. And the list goes on and on and on....I think just about everything I had to read for college and high school is on some list somewhere... A pity I didn't know that then... I might have been a bit more keen to read them... although I would have been disappointed when the juicy bits didn't materialize. I read As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner and while it might "use profanity and questions the existence of God"... so did I... and I never got banned from the library. Wouldn't it be great if teenage girls were carrying around dog-eared copies of The Grapes of Wrath with all the "inappropriate sexual references" highlighted rather than this years version of Judy Blume's Wifey?
But enough about censorship and banned books... let's get back to what this blog is about... FOOD... I'll leave you with a recipe.
Chicken Soup for the Anarchist's Soul
3 chicken breasts - use free range chickens only... "Free-range is not chaos... but poultry without control!"
6 cups chicken broth
carrots (who am I to tell you how much to use?)
rice or pasta
Mix all these ingredients together and simmer until it is sufficiently cooked... Cook without recipe or permission... Do it your way and a delicious soup will follow!
Most of the information I got on the reasons certain books were banned came from the ALA Banned and Challenged Books page (they also have free clip art for your own blog if you like). I also used Delete Censorship.org. There are tons of surprising books listed there.... take a look!