This month, Martha and co. zigzag back and forth from sea to shining sea to pump us full of uniquely American history, culture, and self-loathing. In his monthly letter, editor Michael Boodro patiently explains to us that America is not homogeneous throughout (the South, however, is comprised entirely of fried chicken, outdoor luncheons, and mountains and mountains of potato salad). On the contrary, different pockets of our country have different shades of culture, dadgummit! In this age of Starbucks and Target and mass-marketing, Martha Stewart reminds us that in all regions of our country, houses and dinner parties are rich and varied. But mostly rich.
I actually really enjoyed the article “Learning from the Shakers” (Celia Barbour, p. 118), and not just because the words “celibacy” and “unspent energy” appeared in an issue of Martha Stewart Living (I wonder if Martha read that part about how the reason Shakers were so clean and wonderful was because they worked all day to calm their not-getting-any hormones and gasped in recognition). Likewise the Object Lesson on clocks was a nice change from last month’s ceramic cake domes or whatever (“These are no longer necessary and take up a ton of room, but everybody needs at least six to display in their fourth dining room or second veranda. The help will find them so charming, a reminder of what they once had to carry around!”)
The Do You Know? page has some gems this month, such as the part about how Northern folks eat their hot dogs with the slit on the top and Southern folks turn theirs sideways (or is it the other way around? That’s the first I’ve heard of it, but I think it’s cute that Martha even pretends like she knows what hot dogs are. The Good Things seemed to have a good mix of the useful and the preposterous, and From My Home to Yours, I was happy to see, was still liberally sprinkled with evidence that Martha’s feet are no longer, if they ever were, on the ground.
I’m feeling pretty confident about the Dessert of the Month (Peach-Cornmeal Upside-Down Cake) and the Cookie of the Month (No-Bake Chocolate and Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars), but maybe that’s just hubris. One does involve lavender, and the other requires drizzling, but neither of them look as predictably long-winded as the What’s For Dinner? (A Meal for Four in About Five Hours) section. I can’t wait to try and find a Charentais melon (probably only grown in the foothills of Skylands). More on these later, if I can put the biscuits and collard greens down long enough to wander around my magnolia-scented Southern city and shop for ingredients.
Lesley is taking care of Wine & Spirits and Collecting this month, as well as anything to do with plants. I sure as hell hope she’ll take Fit to Eat too, because I’m not into drinking chilled vegetable broth. We’ll be back shortly to tell you about how MSL affects the lives of average American ladiez this July and August. With creme-de-cassis gelatin shoved inside a melon on the menu, you can bet it’s going to be a wild ride.