Food in "Ulysses"
Saturday, June 16, 2001
New York, NY —She bestowed fat pears neatly head by tail ad among them ripe shamefaced peaches....young juicy crinkled and plump red tomatoes sniffing smells...
Tape “Drink man..the milk of humankind…an udderful of mother's milk.....of those bugeoning stars overhead...
JK They eat a lot in Joyce’s Dublin It’s lunchtime,
TAPE Have you got a cheese sandwich? (Woman- yes, sir),
JK It sounds delectably European. Here’s David Margulies reading Mr Bloom from a WNYC 1993 broadcast from Symphony Space
TAPE I like a few olives too if you have them, Italian, I prefer, good glass of burgundy ..lubricate ..nice salad ..cool as a cucumber ..pure olive oil ..take one Spanish onion, God made food, the devil the cooks. JK Nowadays Ireland is reaching out to Europe and there's a cosmpolitan influence.The European Union has had a great impact (bar atmos) Many pubs have become continental bars ..all glass and stainless steel ..though the music is often traditional. On a recent visit I recorded some musicians playing informally in a bar full of young business types. …(Music). Many Irish artists like Joyce and Beckett lived much of their working lives in Europe and appreciated fine gourmet imports.But Joyce’s interest in food in Ulysses is not that of the bon vivant ..the characters are not wealthy, and there’s a darker historical impulse behind it. Joyce, Malachy McCourt reminds us, wrote the book between 1914 and 1921, the Great Hunger due to the potato blight was still part of Irish cultural memory.
.TAPE It’s just a half century since the great famine ..there was tremendous infant mortality rate ..there was a shame about having food ..it was treated differently in public and in private.
JK The food references are strung together like beads in a necklace, (music)
Sometimes foodand sex are intertwined, there’s a delightful account of sticky seedcake, sometimes says Isaiah Sheffer it’s about rotting flesh and it’s gruesome. Isaiah...
TAPE ISAIAH Some of it is disgusting, we visit in the Lestrygonians men cleaning gristle, some of it is attractive there are images of sweetness and candy and narcotics and sleepiness.
JK So the listener to Bloomsday can indulgently partake , taste the bitter and the sweet, smell the rancid and the perfumed. For WNYC, I'm Judith Kampfner.music