I’m reading Silvia Federici’s Revolution at Point Zero and Laura Shapiro’s Something from the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America simultaneously. In some ways, they’re very different books–one a collection of academic writing with a focus on feminism, anti-capitalism, and the Wages for Housework campaign; the other a pop history of feminism, domesticity, and cooking in mid-century America–but they’re similar enough that I keep finding myself mixing up passages, thinking a paragraph was in one book while it was actually in the other. Both have provoked my curiosity about domesticity and feminism, particularly as it relates to this pandemic. Many folks I know are repairing to the kitchen right now while others are essential workers, many employed in professions that are stereotyped as “feminine” (and many women-of-color-led), and often undercompensated and undervalued.
There’s some interesting writing about the pandemic leading to an experience similar to a mass strike (this piece from Chuǎng is worth a read), but if domesticity is part of the capitalist machinery, as Federici argues, and being stuck inside means being forced into these domestic spaces, then a lot a lot of people aren’t on strike from that labor (and that’s not to mention essential workers still going to their waged jobs, or folks whose domestic spaces are unsafe). We’re cleaning and cooking, sometimes obsessively (I’ve been staying up at night googling recipes to figure out how to make the best use of whatever is in our fridge, something I’ve never done before). I don’t have super cogent thoughts about all of this yet, but I do have a bunch of questions: How is this causing households to reenact or transgress against gender roles? How is socialization being disrupted or reaffirmed in queer relationships during quarantine? And can domestic labor be both labor AND pleasure?
Federici argues it can be, writing in her preface to Revolution at Point Zero: “Nothing so effectively stifles our lives as the transformation into work of the activities and relations that satisfy our desires. By the same token, it is through the day-to-day activities by means of which we produce our existence, that we can develop our capacity to cooperate and not only resist our dehumanization but learn to reconstruct the world as a space of nurturing, creativity, and care.” Jenny Odell, in How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, also champions care work, writing, “The life force is concerned with cyclicity, care, and regeneration; the death force sounds a lot to me like ‘disrupt’. Obviously, some amount of both is necessary, but one is routinely valorized, not to mention masculinized, while the other goes unrecognized because it has no part in ‘progress.” (I’ve carried this quote in my–metaphorical!–pocket since day one of shelter-in-place.) If I’m grateful for anything in this current hell world, it’s been the way quarantine (and my privileged experience of it) has given me a deeper respect for work that is reparative, rather than productive: Washing laundry by hand. The salad greens growing in pots in our front yard. And yes, making food from scratch.
This galette uses rosé from the winery where my partner works, 1/2 recipe of Emily Hilliard’s pie dough (Hilliard is a folklorist who runs a really awesome pie blog, Nothing in the House, among other things), and the kind of kitchen creativity I sometimes get struck with on Sunday morning, one of two days off where I have the house to myself–so I guess it mixes wage labor, domestic labor, and pleasure?
POSTSCRIPT: After I initially published this, the following syllabus came out. I haven’t read many things on it but it looks amazing and I recommend taking a peak: Wages for Housework & Social Reproduction: A Microsyllabus
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups rosé wine
2 tbsp + 1 tbsp sugar (divided)
1 tbsp dried lavender (optional)
1 tsp almond extract
1/2 recipe Nothing in the House pie crust, chilled in the fridge for at least 1 hour
2 tbsp coarse sugar (like demerara!)
2 tbsp slivered almonds
Peel and core both pears, and cut off the stems. Place them in a bowl of ice water with one tbsp of lemon juice.
Combine 2 cups of rosé wine, 1 cup water, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp lavender (optional), and 1 tsp almond extract in a pot and raise to a boil over medium-high heat. Bring liquid down to a simmer. Remove the pears from the ice water mixture and slice each half into six slices. Add slices to the simmering poaching liquid. Once the liquid comes back to a simmer (the addition of the pears will cool it down a bit), poach the pear slices for 5 minutes. When done, remove them from the liquid and set aside. If you’re using lavender, strain the rosé liquid through a sieve to remove lavender pieces (you can also brush bits of lavender off the pear slices once they cool, but a few lavender flecks in the galette is totally fine!). Return to heat and add an additional tablespoon of sugar. Reduce the rosé syrup until it coats the back of a spoon (it will make 1/4-1/2 cup liquid). Let the syrup cool.
Roll out the chilled pie dough on a floured surface. Heap pears in the middle and fold the edges over the filling to form a galette (see picture). Brush the crust with an egg wash and sprinkle it with a coarse sugar, like demerara. Bake the galette for 20 minutes. Pull it out of the oven, sprinkle it with 2 tbsps slivered almonds, and return to oven. Bake for 10-15 additional minutes, until crust is golden brown. Remove galette from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
Drizzle the rosé syrup on top of the galette and serve at room temperature.