225: Aspic Design
Y’all. I’m so excited for our first historical joy! In all its disgusting glory.
If you’ve never heard of aspic, you are hardly alone. The most technical definition is that it is a savory gelatin mold made with meat, vegetables, and stock.
The actual definition is that it is a quivering mound of meat flavored jello eaten on crackers, and I’m really sorry if you just threw up in your mouth a little.
The origins of aspic are clear enough (that pun was accidental, but I’m leaving it) — it’s what we used to do with leftovers. My mother-in-law used to make this thing called leftover stew, and it was just as gross.
However, the fact is, food waste is a HUGE problem. We no longer work to use all of the parts of our food, which leads to not only waste but also, perhaps paradoxically, overconsumption.
In the United States alone, we throw away more than 80 billion pounds of food a year. That is 40% of our annual food supply, and if that doesn’t make you queasy, nothing will. Especially when you also consider that more than 35 million people struggled with hunger or food insecurity in 2019.
That’s not just bad math. This is a colossal failure on every level.
How to fit in more of this:
So, what does that have to do with aspic?
At its core, aspic is about consciously using what we have.
I’m not suggesting you go out and make meat jello, because I’m certainly not fucking going to. But I am evaluating the food that I cleaned out of my refrigerator yesterday, making way for the massive amount of food being delivered to my door today in preparation for the holiday.
And that’s still more consumption. Consumption of fuel, paper and plastic, and that’s not even covering the materials or potable water used for manufacture, which is a whole other conversation.
Especially because tomorrow, many of us will be preparing giant birds for smaller crowds than normal. This means that using what we have leftover is going to be even more important.
Yesterday on Ask Briar, I spoke with the amazing Alison Tedford about decolonizing Thanksgiving. And when we talk about decolonizing something, it’s not just about telling the story correctly. We also have to attempt to make reparations.
For hundreds of years, we’ve lied about the origins of the day, and the meaning of the celebration.
But it’s more insidious than that.
Because what we’ve created is antithetical to the people who we have harmed.
Most indigenous cultures have a symbiotic relationship with the land. They maintain the very thing that gives them sustenance.
And yet here we are, 200 years later. Thanksgiving is a holiday about consumption, preceding a weekend filled with the worst kind of consumerism, and an overwhelming glut of questionable decisions.
So when I say reparations, what I mean is learning how to consume less. Making conscious choices about what you buy, how you care for it, and most importantly, what happens to that item in the next cycle.
Because that cycle is everything.
Our culture places an inordinate amount of emphasis on beginnings. “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life, and I’m feeling good,” we say, but…what happened to the old one?
What if we placed less emphasis on the new?
What if we spent more time honoring the old, and what we leave behind?
What if we allowed ourselves to feel the guilt, regret, loss, and shame that we are moving beyond? What then?
We’ve come to think of these things as emotions to let go of. That because they make us feel bad, that we shouldn’t feel them anymore.
But there is extraordinary power in sitting with our shame.
Because it is here that we learn about ourselves.
It is here that we decide to change.
2020 has been an unforgettable year. One for the history books. But this time, as you prepare for the new year, I ask you to consider what you will be taking with you into 2021, and what you are leaving behind.
What’s left is going to be an unholy mess. A tangle of emotions, unfinished projects, and derailed dreams. It’s incredibly tempting to leave all that shit where it lay, and move on to what’s new and has the most potential.
But I encourage you to go over it one last time. Because there’s probably a wobbly meat jello in there somewhere.