the culinary issue
editor: natalie flaherty
editor: bridget o'brien
editor: sylvie corwin
editor: hannah marker
volume 15 issue 4
quarterlife is a literary journal published four times a year that features poetry, short fiction, drama, creative nonfiction, analytic essays, alternative journalism, and any other sort of written work Whitman students might create, as well as sketches, drawings, cartoons, and prints. Each issue is composed around a given theme that acts as both a spark for individual creativity and a thematic axis for the issue.
quarterlife is an exercise in creative subjectivity, a celebration of the conceptual diversity of Whitman students when presented with a single theme. Each piece is ostensibly unconnected but ultimately relevant to the whole. Every work illuminates a different aspect of the theme. In this way, quarterlife magazine participates in the writing process. The magazine is not an indifferent vehicle by which writing is published, but rather is a dynamic medium with which writing is produced.
letter from the HEAD CHEFS
Upon our return from the hall of the Vegan King, we found ourselves with quite the appetite--so thank goodness we found quarterlife: the culinary issue! If you’re searching for a meal or a quick snack, look no further! This place has most buttery eggs, the warmest oatmeal, and the greenest playdough pizza around. They may not technically “barbeque” anything, and their Key-lime ice cream may be the color of a highlighter, but nothing beats their signature single glazed donut. If you’re of the archeological persuasion, they even have little bits of the past for you to bite into like you would a juicy plum.
When you enter quarterlife: the culinary issue, smells from a family dinner will greet you. Warm bread lines bowls, cheese spills over the sides of pizzas, and friends sit around tables to share a good meal. It’s the kind of warmth and nutrition that we need as we approach finals and prepare to toss the banana peels and apple cores of this semester into the compost.
Wherever you may find yourself, quarterlife: the culinary issue is here to console your deepest disappointments, like biting into a chocolate chip cookie only to find a raisin. The chefs of Whitman College bring the scents and sweets of nostalgia, comfort, and a smoking burner. This place may have a kitchen on fire and a naughty cat on the loose, but it reminds us what makes a good meal.
So crack your eggs, lick the frosting off your spoon, and enjoy.
Heleana and Anna
Click titles to jump straight to each dish!
what makes a good meal?
a hot summer day, getting swept down the river
the best ribs i’ve ever eaten
barbeque sauce dripping down our fingers
watching a blizzard in our sleeping bags
with deep dish pizza on the porch
and hot chocolate mugs burning our hands
that’s amore on blast as we make wells in flour
adding eggs and kneading
we ate pasta ‘til the midnight hour
using crockpot power to make cheese fondue
dropping grapes in to drink white wine
waiting for diarrhea to ensue
blackened tofu and veggies with miso
going to taq for one fat burrito
potato pierogis and holubsti
truffle mac and bacon poutine
it’s the remaining licks of frosting in the bowl
leaving nothing to waste
and our bellies full
it’s messing up the recipe
but refusing to start over
and eating way too many peas
it’s laughing so hard i thought i would die
a time as sweet
as amaretto milkshakes and cherry pie
the food could be crap
everything falling apart
but it’s the people we love
that nourish our hearts
Douglas parking lot
Black mini SUV
A single glazed donut
You know who you are.
how it started vs. how it's going
A Curse for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
What do I have against oatmeal raisin cookies? You ask.
What malice could I possibly bring to bear upon the innocent little treats that bring joy to so many?
Well, let me begin by saying that oatmeal raisin cookies are a tasty treat. A wonderful baked-together dollop of sweet oatmeal with bits of raisin playfully popping up throughout. The uneven texture of the cookie, lends it a more natural look, almost like something that is harvested, rather than produced. Even the name backs it up in that regard, oatmeal raisin. Two natural things. Two simple things. Upon biting into the cookie, it crumbles into a dense sugary-oat mass in your mouth, with raisins for the occasional surprise to punctuate a pleasant experience.
I fucking hate oatmeal raisin cookies.
I despise oatmeal raisin cookies from a distance, for the sole reason that they can be mistaken for chocolate chip cookies. Chocolate. Chip. Cookies. Gooey, crunchy, soft, warm, 3-days old, chocolatey, milk-dipped, made with love, or grocery-store borne, however you prefer them, they are the shining crown jewel of the cookie world. Perhaps the best evidence yet for the existence of a benevolent, loving God. But I digress. True heartbreak has never been felt, until you find yourself at some event and there, across the room, you see them. Cookies. Chocolate. Chip. Cookies. You notice their circular form, their golden-brown hue fractioned with dark brown flecks throughout. And your sights are now set. You plan your route, your angle of attack, doing your level best to maintain a moderate pace as to not betray your lust. And upon approaching the baked fruits of Eden, you realize. You realize, as your heart crashes to the floor, that those circular tan-toned treats, are a bit too rough, and those dark brown flecks, aren’t so smooth themselves, and also not particularly dark brown. Almost a little purple. Grape-like. Raisin-like. And this is the moment. You look down, in distilled disgust at the oatmealed-abominations. Realizing they are no chocolate chip cookies but raisin-filled lies. You look past the cookies, past the table, and past the floor as a thousand-yard stare carries your gaze into oblivion. And finally, focusing back to the oatmeal raisin cookies, you see them for what they really are.
Little, sweet, imposters.
Harbingers of unadulterated, crushing disappointment.
That’s the thing about disappointment though. It doesn’t have much basis in reality. Disappointment is really completely dependent on you. Disappointment doesn’t exist in nature, you have to create the opportunity for it to exist. Disappointment isn’t an oatmeal raisin cookie. Disappointment is an oatmeal raisin cookie that you thought was a chocolate chip cookie. Disappointment is only given space to exist when you aspire to, or for something. Disappointment feasts on your aspirations, hopes, expectations, and goals. Disappointment sucks like that. But disappointment is just part of the package. You could sit on the couch for the rest of your life and stare at the wall, and you know what? You would probably never be disappointed. Or, you know, you could actually live.
Perhaps disappointment is an unavoidable part of living a fulfilling life. Perhaps, disappointment is a blessing-in-disguise, a little signal that we are living meaningful lives, lives where we desire and hope and aspire- against any and all risks of failure. Lives where we have something to lose. Lives where we are trying to set the bar higher, for ourselves, for our communities, for all of us silly little humans on this planet.
If we were never disappointed, it would mean we have given up. It would mean we have accepted the way things are, become complacent and apathetic with our lives and our world. The world can seem like such a dark place sometimes, with bad news seemingly dominating all other events. And among many things, it is disappointing, to say the least. There are so many people who seem simply disappointed with the world, and the world can be awfully depressing. But that disappointment means that hope and aspiration for a better world still exists. It would be truly terrifying if nobody was disappointed.
So, hope for those chocolate chip cookies, damn it. And if they turn out to be oatmeal raisin cookies, be disappointed.
Kitchen on fire
It was not so long ago, that I,
like you, wanted to be more fit and spry,
but alas, could not find the willpower
to put down my spoon for one fucking hour,
and watched as my fupa grew in size
and my hands greasy from all of the fries,
but good fortune befell me one day,
when I found my solution to finally slay
these body rolls and muffin tops,
and get abs as rigid and tight as a strop.
My elixir, my panacea, my mana
to make myself a male bella donna,
fresh out of the blenders in Silicon Valley,
comes Soylent , for the liberals in Cali.
Now friends, I’m sure you’re aware
of the moniker “soyboy,” but oh ne’er
was I afraid of harsh words that are cruel,
for Lord knows I endured them in middle school.
My order was placed, and I waited eagerly
for my Neopolitan Variety Pack of three.
When it came, I opened it and took a sip,
and downed it like the Titanic (the ship),
down my gullet it went and into my belly.
The texture was smooth like petroleum jelly,
but the taste, oh the taste, of this soy-based drink
knocked me out cold so that I could not think,
and I threw myself into a workout routine
until my body, so sweaty, glistened with a sheen.
My muse was found in this little bottle with white cap
and I swore to carry on until I was jacked.
Weeks passed by and I grabbed a bottle.
Grasping firmly, I twisted full throttle,
but something wasn’t right, for it did not budge.
So I looked down at my body, purged of its pudge.
I twisted and pulled and pried and strained,
but there was no use in these muscles I trained.
I saw ‘twas in vain, the protein I received,
for the mirror showed I had atrophied.
To twist a bottle, so elementary,
alas, I lose to my electuary.
Some nights I lie awake and cry,
and to Soylent, sweet Soylent
I wave goodbye.
Made with 100% composted materials
NO LOAF FOR OLAF
Barbeque, my ass
I would like you, dear friend, to know. If you ever invite me to a barbeque, and there are not
Ribs, brisket, whole chickens
Smoked for a minimum of six hours
Then you have made a grave mistake.
If there is no
lazy susan with a variety of sauces
debate over the merits of dry- and wet-rubs
Then you have misunderstood the feat to which you’ve committed yourself.
If you invite me to a barbeque and there are
Burgers, hot dogs, chicken kebabs
A table of condiments and a burger-building station
A variety of salads, fruit, vegetable, marshmallow
Then you better be comfortable using your spatula for protection.
That, my former friend, is a cookout, and you have broken this poor Southerner’s heart.
In the Hall of the Vegan King, pt. 1
Back in high school, I remember that one of my friends went vegan. I’m sure that’s something most can relate to that one friend that just decides to become a vegan and crafts a pedestal out of leafy greens and bovine tears on top of which they sit, judging everyone that’s normal. I had not talked to Todd (the vegan friend) in a while, but I ran into him not too long ago at a Sprouts. We made small talk, exchanged pleasantries, spoke about our recent lives, etc. Todd, being a vegan, eventually brought up his diet and told me to watch a documentary about factory farming that he promised would change my life. I nodded my head, eyes rolling under closed eyelids, and told him I had heard about it (a lie) from another friend that I had watched Food, Inc. with (not a complete lie) a few months ago. He smiled and said “yeah” a few times.
“Yeah, that’s the movie that made me go vegan. It was so good, but this movie is, like, really good,” he said, “Anyway, I gotta go find a few more ingredients. I can’t find the cashews anywhere, man.”
And with that, Todd left with an aura of all-natural, fair-trade, smug superiority. When I got home from sprouts, I looked into the movie he told me to watch. It was called Nous sommes des animaux, je suis l'agneau. I knew Todd was a vegan, but I hadn’t pegged him for a foreign film type of guy. I ended up finding a site where I could download and watch the movie for free, and that was it. I watched it, not my cup of tea, but it wasn’t so bad. It was just a little weird.
Three days passed, and I made myself a standard breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast, but I found that I didn’t want to eat it. I ended up tossing it and looking in the fridge for anything else, and ate a box of strawberries instead. But none of this had registered to me until I finished the strawberries; it was just one fell swoop, almost unconsciously, like a divine vegan being had possessed me. A few minutes later, there was a knock at my door, and to my surprise, it was Todd standing with two men in brown robes with clerical collars: one was faint green, and the other a ferrous orange. I opened the door and greeted them.
“Wyatt, it has been so long,” Todd said as he opened his arms.
“It’s been, like, three days, Todd,” I replied.
“Yes! Three days too many to be separated from a brother!” he exclaimed, raising his arms to accentuate his want of a hug. I obliged him reluctantly.
“So, who are your friends?” I asked.
“This is Altus Quercus, named for his wisdom and long practice of the way.” As the man with the green collar bowed, he said, “and this is Campus Florus, named for his positive demeanor and beauty,” and the other man bowed.
“Huh, then what’s your, uh...name?” I asked.
“I am Iustus Olivarum, named for my sense of justice and love of peace,” he told me. I looked behind Todd and saw a fourth man waiting in a car, also wearing a brown robe.
“Oh, that’s Craig.”
I eventually agreed to get in the car with them (which, as they assured me, ran on vegetable oil and divine will) and we took a dirt road that led us to a clearing in a forest. The car was parked, along with a few other cars just like it, and we walked the rest of the way on foot.
We came upon what looked like a small village, and Todd exclaimed, “we have arrived!”
I started to wander off, but Todd stopped me.
“No, Wyatt, you must meet him,” he told me.
“Oh, you shall see.”
Todd walked me to a yurt, lifted the flap for me, and motioned for me to enter. The only floor other than soil was a large rug, and the only bedding a few bedrolls scattered around said carpet. The lighting consisted of candles hanging from the top of the yurt, a fire, and a small open skylight. The people were singing “Frère Jacques” accompanied by kalimba, flute, sitar, and three different kinds of drum. The man playing the sitar wore no shirt, had a blanket covering the lower half of his body, and looked oddly familiar. When the song was over, everyone laughed except him. He beckoned for me to come closer, and I sat next to him.
“You are Wyatt, non?” he asked in a thick French accent. He had deep brown eyes and long hair, with a beard to match. “Come, let me feel you,” he said, making me freeze a little.
“Uh, alright...” I said as he placed his hand on my chest. He closed his eyes and gave a heavy sigh.
“Mm, yes, Wyatt. I see your soul. It is tainted,” he said.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“It is tainted by blood. The blood of animals and suffering. To let it free, you must, how you say, tell them you are sorry, yes?”
“You mean, like, repent?”
“Ah, yes, that is the word. Repent. Will you?”
The way he said it felt like it set off a chain reaction in my head. It made sense now.
“You’re the one from the movie I watched, aren’t you?” I asked.
“Oui, je suis l'agneau. Take this from me,” he said, and he brought out a knife. “Sang,” he handed the knife to me, “pour sang, blood for blood. You will repent for me.”
He took my hand and pointed at my finger. I looked at him nervously and looked down at my finger. He nodded and smiled. I pricked my finger with the knife, and watched as blood began to bead up. He took my finger and moved it to my mouth, and I opened it.
“Very good, mon chéri, we forgive you,” he said, and he kissed me.
The kalimba started playing, accompanied by the djembe, and the group began singing what sounded like a gregorian chant. I could hear Todd singing in the background as the man who played sitar continued to kiss me, and I closed my eyes. I can’t deny that it felt magical, nor can I deny that Todd is a good singer. I cannot deny either that he was a good kisser, and that I felt everything melt away as his tongue was the last piece of meat I had in my mouth ever since.
An Archeologist Examines a Ring
The historian approached a friend and asked, "What is this?" In his hand was a ring, discovered in the backyard of a centuries-old plantation. Dirt spotted the band's crevices, yet even with its blemishes, it glowed a dim red. The historian passed the ring to his friend who, fascinated by the trinket, fingers it in astonishment. He said, "Of its material, I'm unsure," then he took the ring and placed it in his mouth. "Interesting...Let me ask an archeologist." The archeologist was bearded. Old. Worn. Tanned from the days and years of endless digs, he aged like the cities he dug: wonders barely intact. He gazed at the rust-colored ring, and held it to the light, curiously marveling at its reflection. He paused. "I'm not sure what this is." Then, as all ancient wonders do, he swallowed the small remembrance of the forgotten past.
How to make a waterfall
Water and rocks create life force with no beating heart. Calm and careful waters skip over and slide under rocks, build homes and break them. But to make a waterfall, water must find a ledge and fall. This is the most important step.
Waves billow out underneath as water hits water. Sometimes the waves are small, only seen by the most careful eye that watches for the tap tap tap of dripping water. Other times the waves dominate, ensuring no one stands directly below. This is an important piece of a large waterfall.
Earth hardens under the pressure of falling water. Rocks form shapes under the cascade, and sometimes they tumble down after one too many drops. Falling rocks create bigger waves. These waves are rare, but important to the existence of the waterfall.
Waterfalls don’t require colorful arrays of organisms surrounding them to be who they are. . . but do they? What good does rock and water falling in the abyss do? Still a beautiful spectacle, but the garnish is half the fun.
And when the river meanders, and the waterfalls elsewhere, do the plants notice? Or do they only notice that less water flows through their veins? The recipe for a waterfall is merely a recipe for life, for communities of living things that are in awe, held captive by falling water.
All you really need to make a waterfall is water, and somewhere for it to fall from. What a slap in the face to all of the plants, animals, fungi, and bacteria working so hard. The spectacle is in the fall, apparently. That’s the most important step.
Midnight at Molasses Reef Marina
In Key Largo, the pelicans almost outnumber the motorcycles
and the mosquitos outnumber them all,
but at night, when the water is calm, the bats cling
to the mangroves like molasses.
From the cockpit of my boat, I watch them flutter across the moon.
I eat the remnants of a bag of chocolate gold coins,
having spent a buck-fifty to buy pieces of chocolate
wrapped up like money. I don’t think too hard about it.
In Key Largo, gimmicks like this are everywhere.
Key-lime ice cream is cheaper than water here;
you can buy a cone for 50 cents from every antique garage, laundromat,
roadside stand, and converted Volkswagen van,
but I can’t bring myself to eat something that sickly color of green.
Birds love it though. They peck at it desperately
as it seeps into the docks, almost boiling under the sun.
I heard earlier today that someone at the marina lost their parrot.
I hope he’s doing okay. I hope these bats don’t find him.
I listen for him, just in case, but I can’t pick parrot-noise from
the Grateful Dead cover band at the bar. They play on and on,
and you can tell they’re several drinks in.
I make a rum and Coke to calm my nerves.
I pour the first sip into the sea, for my grandfather,
whose ashes run in these waters,
and for Hemingway and Neptune, the mythic fathers of the Keys.
In my hand, the chocolate coins melt beyond repair and it’s just us
in the cockpit—my fathers and I, no wishing-well currency.
Listen to me, I say,
I have seen the neon-green ice cream.
I have seen “the Hemingway boat” in the Islamorada Bass Pro Shop.
I have spilled coffee while a million-dollar yacht sent wake
enough to tip my boat over. I have eaten alligator.
I have seen cockroaches the size of my palm.
And I am tired of Largo.
I wish I could see what you saw.
Hemingway used to come to the Keys to catch marlin
and smoke Cuban cigars, and the bars won’t let you forget it.
They all have framed pictures of him, holy Hemingway,
patron saint of whiskey, remembered here for the wrong things.
I try to reconcile Hemingway with laundromat Key-lime ice cream,
but I can’t over the noise of bats, swarming
around something they’ve dragged onto S-dock.
I know what you’re thinking, I say,
You’re thinking that I wouldn’t feel this way
if the ice cream were the right color.
You’re probably right.
In Largo, I talk to the empty night as it sways back into day,
back into heat that melts day-glo ice cream into nothing.
No voice floats on the wind, and I realize the cover band has stopped.
The hippies stream into their caravans and the bearded men in bandanas
file into motorcycle troupes. Dust springs into the air.
Here, in Largo, all is silent but for the bats,
who quarter a squealing creature in the moonlight.
I sigh and toss my melted coins into the garbage.
Goodnight, Key Largo.
Can you put too much butter in your eggs?
On Warm Oats
As a morning greeting, we exclaim “Warm oats!” We stumble into the kitchen at different times, but the oats are our uniter, our point of entry into each other’s night’s sleep and morning contemplations.
“How did you sleep?” we ask. “Any dreams?” we inquire. “What are you up to today?” we press.
The dry, one-minute quick oats fall into bowls. Our bowls don’t match. Rather, they are collected hand me downs from parents or past Whitman residents or plucked from thrift stores.
Sleep is scoured from eyes as we fill the bowl with water, reaching just above the line of flaky breakfast cereal. Some of us measure. Some of us live on the edge and approximate. Or maybe we’ve made oats so many times before that we do not need the measuring cup to confirm that we are correct.
The microwave beeps three times and we hope that the oats have bubbled but not overflown. The coffee cools in the French press and between hands in eclectic mugs with nipples and hedgehogs and DNA illustrations. We discuss our days and dreams and aspirations and we tease and tousle hair into ponytails.
We top oats with cinnamon, honey. Stir. We are careful not to grab the red pepper flakes in reaching for the cinnamon.
Our bodies curve around each other as we compose our breakfast. We are both synchronized and in conflict, hitting hands but melding between each other’s backs, sliding with slippers on the slotted floor.
Next is the nut butter of choice, the yogurt and the granola. A fruit perhaps. Apple slices, frozen blueberries, banana. Some seeds. You stir in your toppings and the oats meld together in harmony.
We brush knees as we sit on the living room floor, sipping on coffee and slurping down our oats. Sometimes the sound of chewing irks in my ears, but I am reminded of the life that fills this house. Each hand hitting mine becomes a moment where I am connected. Each swallow, each hum, each slurp and gulp adding to the symphony of breaths that meet my own.
The chaos of zoom rooms and zooming to campus ensues, and we part. Throughout the day, I hold on to the moment when our knees met.
At night, I dream of warm oats.