Thursday, December 27, 2012
I’ve been thinking lately about a passage from How to Cook a Wolf (from the chapter “How to Keep Alive”).
The man I know who lived for two years on about seven cents a day [ed. note: 2011 equivalent = $1.14] (this was in the early thirties at the University of California) was and still is a bonny figure indeed, tall, lean, and wholesome….
His formula was simple, but as a I said before, he cheated now and then.
He would buy whole ground wheat at a feed-and-grain store, cook it slowly in a big kettle with a lot of water until it was tender, and eat it three times a day with a weekly gallon of milk that he got from a cut-rate dairy. Almost every day he stole a piece of fruit from a Chinese pushcart near his room. (After he graduated he sent the owner a ten dollar bill, and got four dollars back, with an agreeable note inviting him to a New Year’s party in Chinatown in San Francisco. He went.)
Every three weeks or so he had a job as a waiter at fraternity house banquets and other such college orgies. He always took a basket and a rope, and let down into the alley sometime during the evening a surprising collection of rolls, butter, olives, pie, and even chicken or meat. After one or two sad experiences with alley cats, who found his basket before he got to it, he knew how to close it firmly against any marauders but himself and would hurry back to his room with it as soon as the waiters were dismissed.
He confessed much later that the food never tasted good and that it was always a relief to get back to boiled wheat and milk again, but that for two years he wolfed down those frowsy stolen scraps as if they were his one link with la gourmandise.
Eating holiday food is fun, but I’ll be glad when it’s over.