Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Short Story Wednesday: "So Much Cooking" by Naomi Kritzer


This short story is written as a series of blog posts, beginning with hints of an outbreak of bird flu. The blog focuses on food and cooking and that is a great way to illustrate the differences that a catastrophe can make in your life. The setting is in Minneapolis and takes place mostly in February so it is cold. 

The flu in the story is H5N1 and it soon leads to social isolation and difficulty in getting food and other supplies. The blogger lives with a boyfriend or husband (don't know if that was specified). They are both able to work from home. Then she takes in two of her nieces because her sister-in-law is a nurse and could easily expose them to the flu. Later two more kids are added to the "family" because their mother is sleeping in her car so she won't expose the kids, and one of them is a three year old. 

The story reminded me a lot of how it felt at the beginning of the current pandemic ... with food shortages and speculating what was the best way to avoid exposure or how long it would last. Just not knowing what the next day would bring.

I have to say I loved this story. It was written in 2015, and it was interesting to see what the author imagined a viral pandemic to be like and what did and did not correspond to how it has gone with this pandemic. It was emotional and sad, but not depressing.


Other things I liked:

  • The first blog post is about a recipe for chicken with potatoes, garlic, and lemon. It sounds great.
  • Some interesting information on substitutions in making recipes.
  • A constant refrain of how she has to have some caffeine everyday. (She ran out of coffee early on.)

The story is available online at Clarkesworld. It has also been published in a collection of the author's stories, Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories, which I will be getting soon. The stories in the collection are science fiction or fantasy.

The author wrote an article about this story in April 2020 at the Tor website.



12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't know if it was published across the Atlantic, but I found The Ladybird Book of the Zombie Apocalypse just before the Great Pandemic began and very useful and entertaining it was. Toilet paper shortages feature there as well.

Cath said...

I've grabbed the story as I love the sound of it, so thanks for the link. Chicken works so well with lemon, I have an excellent Nigel Slater recipe, Chicken with Lemon and Honey, that we make a lot.

pattinase (abbott) said...

THis is reminding me of a movie I saw on Netflix or one of the streaming channels. I will have to look for it.

TracyK said...

The Ladybird Books are new to me but this sounds very good. They are not published in the US but seem to be easily available through Amazon. I will definitely give that a try. Thanks for the suggestion.

TracyK said...

Cath, I hope you enjoy the story. I don't know that I have cooked chicken with lemon before, but we have tons of lemons to use, so it sounds like a great idea.

TracyK said...

Patti, I am glad I found this story at this point in the pandemic. If I had read it back in April a year ago, I might have found it more disturbing and had a different reaction to it.

Margot Kinberg said...

It sounds like a very good story, Tracy. What struck me, too, is how timely it seems! The characters sound interesting, too, especially the way in which the pandemic impacts them. Glad you enjoyed this.

TracyK said...

Margot, the author's article explains how she researched the effects and protocols for a pandemic, and the event that inspired the story. Of course, she had to imagine how people would be affected. It was well done, I thought.

Katrina said...

It sounds like an interesting read. I cook a lemon chicken dish and it's very good. Lemon curd is lovely and very easy to make so you could use some lemons making that. Are your lemons home grown?

TracyK said...

Katrina, we have a full size lemon tree in our fenced in back area that we planted twenty years ago. It has lots of lemons on it. (Eureka lemons.) We live in a condiminium and the grounds also have lots of lemon trees of various sizes and types but I have not tried any of those yet.

I will take a shot at making lemon curd... I had not thought of that. It does sound lovely but maybe not so easy for me.

CLM said...

Having your own lemon tree is awesome! I think some people manage that in New England but need to bring it inside in the winter. I saw a very appealing recipe recently using lemon curd so bought a jar (sadly, I did not print it out so who knows where it was) and my sister, like Katrina, said it is easy to make. We will see which happens first - finding the recipe or making my own! Really, the time is probably better spent with a book.

TracyK said...

Constance, it is a miracle we have our own lemon tree, because we knew nothing about gardening when we planted it. But it is huge now and lots of lemons, so we lucked out. Last year we planted a dwarf Meyer lemon tree and a semi-dwarf blood orange tree and we will see how they do. And I will try making lemon curd, sooner rather than later I hope.