Last month was a good one for anthologies. At least for me—I have the privilege of both Best Food Writing 2014 and Full Grown People: Greatest Hits, Volume I including my work. I'm so excited, I'm giving away a copy of Full Grown People: Greatest Hits, Volume I. To enter, just LIKE the Facebook page for The Sausagetarian, and then comment on this post by answering this question: What's the most memorable thing you've read lately?
Both of the essays in this recent anthology-rama are from the knock-down amazing website Full Grown People, which you should check out already if you haven’t yet, okay? Full Grown People isn’t a website about food; it’s about those moments in your grown-up life when you think, “Wait, I don’t have any of this figured out, do I?” Those job-losing, relationship-breaking, loved one-dying, oomph-fizzling times both subtle and dramatic. The experiences are diverse; the writing is always fantastic. Full Grown People founder and editor Jennifer Niesslein has a pulled together a family of sorts, one of both readers and writers, and given them the space to be bold and thoughtful together.
The two anthologized essays I wrote hinge on food and identity (alert Freud!) “Smelted,” which appears in Best Food Writing 2014, has to do with finding a place for my formal training as a chef in my home and marriage. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Yes, smelt makes a cameo. (Best Food Writing deserves its own post, so we'll do that next week.)
The other essay, “Return of the Dropout,” is about chemistry, cured pork products, and an abandoned mid-life career change. That one is in Full Grown People: Greatest Hits, Volume I.
The honor of regularly contributing to Full Grown People isn’t just about having a home for first-person essays that look deep into those messy gray areas that defy blurbs and sound bites. New essays go up twice a week, and every time I read one, I come away a little changed. I realize how differently we all approach the joys and travails of our days, how we deal with pain, loss, and happiness. I realize that we’re all constantly seeking out that sweet spot of sustained contentment, and how slippery and shifting contentment can be. It moves into unexpected shapes and forms.
Listing my favorite essays from the site is tough…which is why you should just order Full Grown People: Greatest Hits, Volume I today. Jody Mace’s “Animal House” not only cracked me up, it vastly improved my marriage; through reading it I learned about doggie diapers, and now my husband and I can have civilized discussions instead of dealing with dog pee disasters all over our carpet. Carol Paik’s “Something from Nothing” examines the beautiful absurdity of paper-making. Meredith Fein Lichtenberg’s lyrical “The Pull of the Moon” braids together motherhood, nature, and summer holidays. “The Pageant,” by Shaun Stallings Anzaldua, hilariously recounts a bizarre but deeply meaningful family Christmas tradition. Randy Osborne tenderly reveals his unlikely love for his pet squirrel in “All Sort of Things and Weather, Taken in Together.” In “Someone Stole Home,” Antonia Malchik will stir the heart of anyone who misses the place they came from. Catherine Newman’s “In Praise of Synthetic Vaginas” fearlessly sums up the elephant in the room about long-term sexual relationships.
See? I have to stop now. This is ridiculous. Get the book and read them all, kiddos! For a taste of what Full Grown People is all about, here’s one of the most distinctive, thoughtful, and complex essays I’ve read about food in years, Nicole Walker’s “Persuasion.” It’s about god and faith and eating a pig head, and it’s not in an anthology. Yet.