Recently, The Magazine Project published an article called, “‘Transwomen’ Are Merely Castrated Men”. Following is my response to the article, which has now been taken down because of the vast outpouring of criticism by trans people and their supporters that it generated.
The article is an extremely transphobic screed that consists of the same tired Second Wave Rad Fem rants about trans people. Helen G at Bird of Paradox has a PDF of the Google Cache of the original article if you want to read it, here.
Wait! It looks like the article is back up, now enhanced, extended, and improved, and with Part II to follow, in which the author said she would attack trans men. This should be…interesting.
It should be noted that The Magazine Project currently has no trans people involved, but they have put out the word that they would like for trans people to be involved. They have also issued a disclaimer for the views expressed in the article. Somebody ought to let them know that disclaimers don’t excuse their giving such trash a platform.
Here is my response to the original article (also here):
mleig said (and it should be noted that I’m not particularly picking on her, just making an example out of her):
She falls back on the same academic, liberal idea of “gender” that radicals simply find appalling. The radicals in this thread have different politics– not a lack of knowledge about science, the experiences of MtFs, or language. I get why the article and comments come across as hateful to those with apolitical notions of “gender” and those who have been “educated” by any one of the strains of transactivism. My own such education had me using terms like “cisgendered” for a regrettable minute, but I had a lack of exposure to materialist and realist politics at that time. It was actually through further exposure to transactivists and sex science that I came to see males as males and females as females. When I was merely a kid with a library card and internet connection I was very much willing to jump on the gender bandwagon.
I have to say, I find it curious that so-called “radicals” use the term “liberal” about as well as the authoritarian dupes that are still persist in calling themselves conservatives, when they are, in actuality, nothing of the sort. I’ve found this to be true not just among radical feminists, but radicals of other stripes, as well, even in the trans communities. I also find it rather curious that people who declare themselves to be Lesbian Separatists are so concerned about engaging those they declare men in public debate. If you want to separate, by all means, do so. I promise no one will stop you, and if they try, I’ll be among the first to prevent them from doing so, because I believe it is one of my many callings to fight for the right of all people to self-determination.
Unfortunately for the “radicals in this thread”, politics–materialist, realist, or of any other sort–are not an appropriate substitute for proven knowledge gained through scientific study methods, if one expects to partake in a public debate and be taken seriously by people of wisdom. These radicals most certainly, refutations aside, possess a severe lack of knowledge about science, or they would know that every scientific basis for their essentialist notions of sex, gender, and their relationships to biology is misleadingly outdated.
The more that scientists and medical practitioners study the subject of gender variance, the more it is understood that there is, in fact, a biological basis for gender variance, that gender is not absolute or exclusive, nor is it solely the domain of either biology or social conditioning. I suppose it is worth noting, however, that many among the communities of radicals may summarily dismiss science, in general, as being the purview of, or at the very least subject to pollution by the designs of, the patriarchy, despite the examples that I have personally known, and the many more publicly known examples, of highly accomplished female practitioners of the sciences and medical fields.
FAB4Life says, “Females are those with certain sex organs.” Do you happen to know what the most important sex organ is? I’m sure you can work that one out as an exercise for the reader.
The “radicals in this thread” also evidence not only an appalling ignorance about the lived experiences of trans people, they also evidence that they do not care to learn such. They are so proud of their ignorance and their lack of desire to educate themselves that they wave it about as if it were the red flag of revolution, rather than a banner attempt to halt the progress of human understanding which terrifies them so.
Language? The use of language by the radicals here is nothing short of anti-feminism at its worst, using the language of the patriarchy to reify the normalization of the normative gender roles prescribed, and proscribed, by that very same structure of oppression. They recoil at the term “cisgender”, because, like all privileged groups, they recoil at being labelled by those they have Othered. Oh, but silly me…that’s right, how could I forget the persistent insistence of rad fems that they, as women, could not possibly possess the sort of systemic power to oppress and police those less empowered in society as they as those higher up the privilege chain do to all beneath them. After all, trans people aren’t people at all, are we? We’re Other. Trans women are really men, trans men are just misguided women. Flying in the face of inconvenient facts is a political and propagandistic exercise, not a scientific one, which denies trans people their lived experiences and their rightful agency. The which should sound familiar to any self-respecting feminist, because once again, it is nothing more than the disguised tactics of the oppression that feminists were among the first to identify and combat.
Yes, those of us with “apolitical notions of gender” do react with shock and dismay when we hear the radicals in this thread tell us gender is nothing more than politics, because not only do we understand our genders innately, we know our innate understandings have been confirmed by tested and repeatable scientific certainty, and that that confirmation is becoming more concrete with each passing year. Yes, we do believe it to be hateful. It is hateful to dehumanize other people based on nothing more than old wives’ tales and superstitions about the nature of reality.
Our most respected institutions of medical knowledge the world over and our most progressive and insightful legal thinkers, men and women alike, have declared over and over again that it is time to stop the dehumanizing pathologization of trans people and accept the natural variance of gender in all human beings. Will you set yourself as their betters, based on a mere political argument with a flimsy foundation? Do you honestly think they are all tainted? If you do, allow me to refer you to the DSM, because that is clear evidence of disorder. Speaking of disorders, even the APA is awakening to the fact that the inclusion of GID in the DSM is at odds with their principles.
One set of memes keeps appearing in the rhetoric of rad fems that I find deeply troubling, and this is the appropriation of the term “rape”, its usage as part of such terms as “rape culture”, and its application by rad fems, to all males. This is a dangerous diminution of the seriousness of forcible coercion, and contributes to the trivialization of women’s concerns about their integrity and safety, not to mention what it does to perpetuate patriarchy among boys and men.
As someone who spent a large portion of my life under the patriarchal strictures of masculinity, I would even go so far to say that no person who has not lived that experience is in a position to pass ultimate judgment on the benefits, or more accurately, obligations, it entails, and since the people rad fems would define as women are, by design, cis, rad fem women cannot know.
You are more than free to tell us about the other side of the coin. Trans people, both trans women and trans men, understand that we cannot, by nature, be privy to all aspects of womanhood; however, no person could ever claim such, just as no person could ever lay claim to a complete understanding of manhood. There is no universal experience. I suspect, though, that one of the things that angers rad fems the most about trans people is that they are the only people in a position to truly see the coin from both sides.
I’m not here to regale you with pleas not to hurt my feelings, or dismiss me, or any other such personal argument, since not only would it fall on deaf ears, it’s not particularly pertinent or necessary for me to make my points. Rad fems don’t care how many trans people die as a result of the mistaken beliefs they perpetuate. Hell, rad fems don’t care about how many cis people die as a result of their mistaken beliefs, so why should we think they’d care about monsters like us? Their lives are ruled by fear, most evident in the way most of them hide behind pseudo-intellectualism and pseudonyms, and they take so much care in covering the tracks of their identities that you’d think they were trans, or something, and in fear of possibly losing their lives for being outed.
That, friends, is a privilege to which I’d love to lay claim, but my life has taken a different turn. My safety lies in being truthful and open, lest I give mean-spirited people the power of secrets over me. You will note, friends, the number of trans women commenting here in this thread whose public identities are easily accessible. You may discover my own simply by clicking upon my name at the top of this post. Many of us don’t have the privilege to hide behind a facade of normalcy, ubiquity, and anonymity, but those of us who do not can at lest take comfort in our honesty, intellectual, political, and otherwise.
Radical feminism, as it was known to those who founded that movement, has run its course, and is now obsolete. This is the reason why Deb can rail, above, at the young lesbians who don’t “give a damn about their elders”. It’s not because “the culture hates old women”, it’s because the culture doesn’t value people who don’t grow with wisdom as they age, and retorts that amount logically to fallacies, irrationality, and hypocrisy are not even worthy of being described as debate, let alone wisdom.
“Being a living trans person means vigilance. For a non-passing trans person, there is no safe space. It is not who we are kissing, but our very heights, our voices, and the size of our hands that catalyze hatred and violence. Forget activism; simply negotiating one’s world every day, constantly judging, adjusting, scanning one’s surroundings, and changing clothes to go from one role to another can be overwhelming.”—
This is so true. So true. I can’t tell you the relief I experienced when I realized that my new workplace had their own bathrooms and I wouldn’t have to try to use the ones in the mall. Sheer terror to think about the alternative.
Did you read that? Sheer terror. We live in a society where certain people must fear for their lives over something as simple as taking a piss.
Recently, someone posed the question, “How did you think of gender before deciding to transition?” Here is my response:
I don’t know that I could ever really say that during my younger years, prior to transition, I thought about sex or gender in any truly rational terms.
Most of my life was spent in an incoherent philosophical rage and incomprehension over the evident fact that society was so insistent on an immutable gender role binary that reinforced attitudes that I felt I could see clearly were unhealthy. Not that this gave me any compassion for those naturally existing closer to the center of the spectrum, I’m sad to say. In those days I believed, gender, whatever its source, was a binary structure and anyone existing more in the center of what I now understand is a spectrum I saw as anomalies, and disordered.
I was unfortunate enough to have had my personality formed in an environment that was extremely hostile to the very idea of transsexuality, so when I talk about reinforcing unhealthy attitudes about gendered roles, what I really mean is the traditionally normative ideas about the “proper behavior” for boys and girls. Transsexuality, to me, was quite simply too terrifying to comprehend as a natural part of the order of the universe; I believe this is mainly because the only exposure I had to the subject involved rather masculine trans women who didn’t pass particularly well. Much of the reason for this was my religious upbringing; another large part of it came from my parents, who were members of the medical profession who looked askance at the idea of surgical or medical modification or enhancement.
Had I understood at a younger age that transition, in terms of passing, could be wildly successful for so many people, my attitudes would likely have been far different. Now, of course, I can grok transsexuality and its place in our society on a much more intellectual and philosophical level, not to mention a more visceral level, but in younger days, I was hamstrung by the notion that transition could never be truly successful for anyone, so I resigned myself to living as a non-surgically or hormonally altered being.
Still, all my life I fought against society’s normative beliefs about boys and girls, men and women. I railed at the expectations society had for men, as well as for women. I hated that some people would denigrate me for any feminine expression, and I hated that other people would denigrate me for other, more masculine, expressions. I bristled whenever I heard the word “metrosexual”, especially when it was directed at me. I felt silenced by feminists and lesbians who claimed that I couldn’t possibly be one of them or understand them.
I felt like an alien being on this planet who, as an outside observer, could clearly see the flaws in the system, and truly empathize with both aspects of the binary. I could be comforted by the fact that I knew myself not to be attracted to men (and could thus relatively comfortably exist in society as a straight man rather than the relatively reviled homosexual man), but couldn’t quite reconcile the feelings that deep inside, I felt more like a girl/woman than a boy/man.
I felt terribly rejected when my close girl friends failed to accept me into the “inner circle”, and thrilled when they trusted me and confided in me as if I were “one of us”. I found very few boys or men who I could relate to with intellectual, philosophical, and emotional intimacy. I watched with envy as every woman who I found attractive walked by, and learned to be so subtle in my observation that I earned a reputation among the women in my life for being more “gentlemanly” than most men, even though I was actually surreptitiously examining them as if under an electron microscope rather than merely staring at T&A.
Although I turned my back on feminism in favor of egalitarianism, I began to study both the essentialist and non-essentialist bases for gendered behavior. In secret, I studied everything I could find about transsexual people. I couldn’t escape the nagging feeling that this was who I truly was. Me, a transsexual woman. It seemed such a simple solution that I was for many, many years extremely suspicious of its veracity, merely because of its very simplicity. Although I have always considered myself a very intelligent and rational, yet empathetic, person who was intellectually, philosophically, and emotionally self-actualized to an advanced level, this was the one aspect of my being that I would only prod at gingerly with a 100-foot pole deep in the night.
Every day, I glory in the knowledge that those days are long behind me. Now, I understand my essence in its entirety and embrace it fully, and the only thing left for me is to complete that short journey that seems so frustratingly long to whatever extent of external expression of my womanhood that I can attain in my remaining years.
I remember one day, probably about ten to fifteen years ago, when I encountered for the first time, I believe, an actual trans woman in public.
I had stopped by a local mall to look for something in the hobby shop there, when I noticed a trans woman, probably in the early stages of transition, because she didn’t pass particularly well. She was out shopping with someone who appeared to me at the time to be a cis woman, perhaps her girlfriend, sister, or wife, perhaps just a good friend. She wasn’t stylish, she wasn’t very pretty, nor did she seem confident.
I’m sure I must have seen trans people before, but this was the first time I actually looked for more than a second before I turned my head away in embarrassment.
…and the thought that went through my mind was, as so many of us are so used to hearing from other people, and to my utter surprise, “I wish I had your courage.”
That was the first real turning point for me.
I wish I had acknowledged her presence, even with something as simple as an honest smile and a “Hello!”, or somehow let her know how inspiring she was to me, how she was probably the one who put the first crack in personal dam. Wherever she is now, I thank her from the bottom of my heart and soul.
This is very insightful, very profound, so thank you for correcting me.
I failed to realize that other people don’t have the same luxury as I do to think about their situation: my insistence that we recognize that other people’s situations are different from our own blinded me to the fact that other people’s situations were different to my own. I will thus stop insisting that we take into account people’s real world situations when we give advice, and instead concentrate on giving advice that takes into account people’s real world situations.
I will stop being an idealist who believes that the world I’ve constructed inside my head based solely upon my experiences should somehow be applicable everywhere, and start being a realist who recognizes that nobody cares what I think is true as their problems exist in the real world.
I will think less, advise more, and make sure that anybody who attempts to disrupt this advice giving is soundly berated for their idealism: the last thing we need is somebody distracting the issue of how to deal with the problems of our social reality by suggesting that we think about the problem of social reality.
I was poking around my hard drive for recipes of mine, and came across this one for my version of Boeuf à la Mode that I created back in January of 2008, which means it would have been one of the last good meals I made for my ex-wife, as she moved out shortly after that date.
Boeuf à la Mode
4 oz. Bacon
2 tbsp Flour
½ tsp Sea Salt
½ tsp Black Pepper
4 lbs Beef, see below
4 sprigs Parsley
1 sprig Rosemary
1 sprig Thyme
2 sprigs Marjoram
2 leaves Bay Leaf
4 oz. Yellow Onion, chopped
4 oz. Celery, chopped
4 oz. Carrot, chopped
2 oz. Shallots, chopped
1 oz. Garlic, chopped
4 oz. Mushroom Caps
¼ cup Butter
¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-2 cups Beef Stock, see below
1-2 cups Red Wine, see below
1-2 tbsp Fish Sauce, optional, to taste, see below
Beurre Manie, optional
Sea Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
Select a cut of beef that is suitable for braising or stewing. Select a robust red wine. Do not use a pot with a non-stick coating.
Some cooks may prefer varying amounts of the fish sauce, to substitute anchovy paste or anchovies, or to omit it altogether, so if you use it, start with 1 tablespoon of fish sauce (or equivalents, below), and add more if the dish needs a certain “je ne sais quoi”.
Prepare a bouquet garni by tying the parsley, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and bay leaves together with kitchen twine or in a cheesecloth bag.
Prepare a mirepoix of the onion, carrot, celery, and shallots by chopping and combining them. Chop all vegetables before weighing.
Prepare a braising liquid by combining 1 cup of the beef stock and 1 cup of the red wine. You may not need more braising liquid than this, depending on your cut of meat, so do not prepare more than is necessary to avoid waste.
Combine the flour, salt, and pepper.
Heat a large dutch oven and add the bacon. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pot and reserve.
Dredge the beef in the seasoned flour and coat thoroughly.
Increase the heat to medium to medium high. Add beef to pot and brown the beef on all sides until well-crusted. Remove the beef from the pot and reserve.
Add the butter and olive oil to the pot. As the water in the butter boils off, make sure to deglaze the pot thoroughly, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
Increase heat to medium high. Add the mirepoix and mushroom caps to the pot and sauté until golden. Add the garlic to the pot and sauté for another minute or so. Reduce heat to medium.
Add the bouquet garni to the pot. Evenly distribute the mirepoix and mushroom caps on the bottom of the pot.
Lay the beef on top of the mirepoix and mushroom caps. Crumble the reserved bacon and add to the pot. Add 1 to 2 cups of the braising liquid (do not fill pot higher than halfway up the meat) and the fish sauce (you may substitute 1 teaspoon of anchovy paste or two whole anchovy fillets for 1 tablespoon of fish sauce) and bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to low simmer and cover.
Every 30 minutes or so, turn beef over, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of additional braising liquid, or as needed, and briefly increase heat to maintain temperature. Baste beef with the pan liquids, reduce heat back to low, and cover. Simmer beef until tender (total, 2+ hours).
Remove pot from heat. Transfer beef to serving platter. Discard bouquet garni.
If necessary, remove excess fat from pan sauce.
If necessary, thin pan sauce by returning pot to low heat and adding additional braising liquid. Add liquid 1/4 cup at a time until pan sauce is desired consistency.
If necessary, thicken pan sauce by returning pot to low heat and reducing or adding beurre manie 1 tablespoon at a time until pan sauce is desired consistency.
Once pan sauce is desired consistency, season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Spoon the pan sauce over the beef and serve.
Notes:Serve with buttered egg noodles with parsley, or a potato of your choice, and a green salad or sautéed haricots vert.
Since I’m on a food kick right now, here’s my Thanksgiving turkey recipe:
Roast Thanksgiving Turkey (a la Gemma)
~20 lb. fresh turkey
For the marinade: ~3.5 oz fresh ginger, peeled and chopped ~1.5 oz fresh garlic, chopped (about a whole head) 1/4 c. shiaoxing wine or almontillado sherry 1/3 c. rendered duck fat (If you don’t have duck fat, you can use butter.) 1/3 c. evoo 1 Tbsp. vegetable stock concentrate (Better Than Bouillon is what I use) 1 medium onion, chopped
For the mirepoix: 1 medium onion, chopped 2 stalks celery, chopped 1 large carrot, chopped 2 shallots, chopped 2 Tbsp. duck fat (or butter) 2 Tbsp. EVOO
water, or prepared vegetable or turkey stock (If your stock is pretty salty, cut it 50/50 with water, or the whole thing will be too salty at the end. You could substitute chicken stock, if you like. Don’t worry about there not being enough salt, because you can always salt the gravy.)
cooking twine aluminum foil tent
Remove giblets and neck from turkey cavities, trim all excess fat and skin, and reserve.
Puree the marinade ingredients in a blender or food processor (don’t clean after this, cause you’ll use it again for the mirepoix, which will pick up the leftover puree), test for saltiness, add more stock concentrate if necessary, spread marinade all over, under skin, and inside turkey, let stand for awhile while you…
Preheat oven to 325.
Saute the mirepoix ingredients until everything begins to caramelize a bit.
Puree mirepoix in the blender or food processor, adding some stock, if necessary to get it going. This will make it much easier to baste the turkey later, if you’re using a bulb baster, plus it makes the resulting gravy nice and smooth. It’s not entirely necessary if you’re going to baste using a spoon, or if you want chunky gravy.
Put mirepoix in large roasting pan with two cups water or stock (use the liquid to rinse out the blender!), reserved turkey bits, and any leftover marinade.
Place bird on elevated roasting rack in roasting pan, wing tips tucked under, leg tips tied together with cooking twine, face bird as close as possible to south in oven for good feng shui (just kidding).
Roast @ 325 until done (about 5 hours), check every half hour or so and: baste turkey with pan juices; remove accumulated liquid from turkey cavity and add to pan juices (Very important! Turkey will not cook properly if you just let the liquid sit in there); add water or stock to pan juices, if necessary; turn turkey 180 degrees in oven to ensure even cooking. You may want to tent the bird with aluminum foil at some point to prevent it getting too dark. Use your judgment.
Note: I prefer a conventional oven for this, because convection, IMO, causes too much evaporation for such long cooking. If you want to use a convection oven, keep a careful watch on the color of the turkey and the liquid level in the pan. You can let the turkey and the pan drippings get very dark brown, just don’t let them blacken.
Remove turkey from oven when juices in cavity are running clear. instant read thermometer in thickest part of thigh should read 165. Place turkey on serving platter to rest while you make gravy from the pan juices. Let rest for at least 20 minutes before you carve the turkey, which ought to be enough for anyone to make gravy.
I don’t think I can really talk about food without talking about Adobo. Filipino Adobo is pretty much the national dish of the Philippines, and it’s most common variety is Chicken Adobo. The same basic cooking technique can be used for just about any type of meat or fish. My dad used to brag to everyone how I make the best adobo.
Adobong Manok, Manila Style, as it’s made at my house (Filipino Chicken Adobo)
a bunch of chicken thighs or legs, say 2-3 lbs., depending on how hungry you and your family are.
This will be best with bone-in, skin-on chicken, but you can use skinless and/or boneless if that suits you. It just won’t be quite as awesomely good…
You could also just use a whole cut up chicken (fryer > roaster), but the breast meat tends to get a bit dry since this is a long-cooking dish. If you’re going to use breasts, let the dark meat cook for awhile, then add the white meat to help keep it from getting too dry. Of course, the rich sauce that results makes up for the dryness of the breast meat.
You could cut the thighs, or whatever, in half if you want smaller pieces, but everytime I do that, I end up with bone fragments in the pot, so I don’t recommend doing so.
about a cup of soy sauce about a cup of vinegar
I like to use Filipino vinegar, such as Sukang Iloco. This is a good post on different types of Filipino vinegars, from Burnt Lumpia, a great Filipino food blog. If you don’t have any suka on hand, you can use plain old white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar.
Mostly, you want a 50/50 ratio of soy sauce to vinegar, or maybe up to a 3:4, or even 2:3, ratio of soy sauce to vinegar. It depends on how you like it. Just mix up enough for the amount of chicken you have in the pot. It’ll be pretty obvious how much you need, but the exact amount isn’t like, super critical or anything.
a whole mess of garlic
I like to use at least a couple of heaping tablespoons of chopped garlic. My parents used to use a whole head of garlic and just smash the cloves with the side of a knife. It’s pretty hard to use too much garlic in this.
Traditionally, this is whole peppercorns, say about 24 or so, but I can’t stand chewing on whole peppercorns, so I just grind a bunch in coarsely, say, a teaspoon or two, ‘cause I like black pepper.
a few bay leaves (3 or 4, I guess)
some patis, if you’re into that sort of thing (I dunno, a tablespoon or two? Depends on your ratio of soy sauce to vinegar…more vinegar tends to argue for some patis to balance it out)
Patis (pa-TEESS) is the Filipino version of the practically ubiquitous Southeast Asian fish sauce. We’ve always used Rufina brand, made in the town where my dad grew up, Malabon, in Metro Manila. Rufina patis is quite a bit saltier and stronger than the Thai (nam pla) or Viet (nước mắm) versions with which you may be familiar, or at least, than the Thai and Viet versions with which I am familiar, to be precise.
What, you may ask, are you supposed to do with all these ingredients?
Put it all in a pot, bring it to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for like, 45 minutes to an hour…however long it takes for the chicken to get to fall-off-the-bone tender. Just keep an eye on the liquid, and add some water, if necessary. It should be fairly soupy and rich, not thin and broth-like, not really thick and super salty. You do want to have plenty of sauce left in the pot for everyone to get some. Definitely, do not let all the liquid boil away and have the sauce burn. That would be bad. You don’t usually have to worry about this, because the chicken will give off plenty of water. Just keep an eye on it now and then, and everything will be hunky-dory.
Now, you can serve it just like that, if you like, or:
You could add some coconut milk and turn it into Adobong Manok sa Gata (Chicken Adobo with Coconut Milk, duh). Just pour in a typical size can of coconut milk, which is usually somewhere around 13.5-ish ounces), and not that silly “light” coconut milk…get the real deal, at some point during cooking (you could do it at the beginning, or at the end, it doesn’t really matter that much…I tend to wait until the end of cooking), and stir it around a bit. I don’t make this very often, because there’s always someone around who will bitch about the coconut milk. Philistines. They don’t know what they’re missing.
Of course, you could always make your own coconut milk, if you’re a masochist.
You can take the chicken pieces out of the sauce, brown them for a bit under a broiler, reduce the sauce some, put the chicken pieces on a serving dish and pour the sauce over. I very rarely bother to do this, but every once in awhile…
OK, so, serve that with some white, long grain rice, and a veg side. I like to serve it with tropical fruits instead of vegetables (fresh cut mango, pineapple, bananas, what have you, with a little lime juice or calamansi juice drizzled over the top). Broiled pineapple with brown sugar is really great with adobo.
Now before you get all religious and doctrinaire about your adobo, you should know that there are as many different ways of making adobo as there are Filipino kitchens in the world. This is just the way I do it, and it’s never failed to please.
There are some people who say you shouldn’t use soy sauce at all, because that’s really a Chinese ingredient, blah, blah, blah, or some other such nonsense. I don’t listen to them, but one of these days, I’ll try it just for shits and giggles.
As I understand it my method of preparation is more typical of the Manila area, and in the southern islands, they tend not to use the soy sauce (I think they substitute patis?) What do I know…I’m Fil-Am, born in the US, I don’t even speak the language, and I’ve only been there once for two weeks. My dad’s dead now, so I can’t even ask him about it anymore. Which is a shame, because he was Visayan/Tagalog, so he might have known this bit. Ah, well…I can tell you that there’s a restaurant I know of that makes their adobo without soy sauce. I’ve had theirs, and I don’t prefer it that way.
The vinegar is a very effective preservative, which is useful in tropical climates, especially if you don’t have access to refrigeration. If you think it’s too fatty, you can let it cool down, then skim off the fat. Me, I like the fat, so I don’t usually remove it. Adobo keeps well, and is even better the next day.
Oh, also, about soy sauce. I use Kikkoman, and I prefer the stuff that’s made in Japan to the stuff that’s made in the US. The only difference is that the Japanese version uses alcohol as its preservative, and the US version uses sodium benzoate. There’s a subtle taste difference, but I don’t get all pissy about it if I can only get the US variety. You usually have to get the Japanese version in specialty Asian markets, but since you’ll be there to get the suka, anyway, you may as well get the Japanese Kikkoman while you’re there.
“Happy Thanksgiving to all my wonderful and amazing friends both old and new who have been so supportive of me. Transition is simultaneously, and quite strangely, the scariest and yet most comforting journey I have ever undertaken, or likely will travel in my life, and I love you all for helping me as I discover my true self, at last. I am so thankful to have you all. My gratitude is limitless!”— Gemma Catherine Seymour, Thanksgiving, 25 November 2010
For the second year in a row, I will be primarily (almost solely, really) responsible for the family Thanksgiving feast. This is one job that Cinderella (that would be me) actually loves to do.
This year, my turkey will be oven-roasted, as per the usual. Prior to cooking, it will be rubbed with a mixture of pureed ginger, pureed garlic, vegetable demi glace (really, concentrated vegetable stock), sherry, and duck fat (Thank all the heavens for D’Artagnan, from whom I will be sourcing the fresh turkey and the duck fat.). I stumbled on this combination (minus the duck fat, I used some other fat instead, maybe peanut oil, because I was going for kind of a Chinese thing) last month while trying to decide what to do with a whole chicken I was going to spatchcock and roast.
The stuffing (or, dressing, if you prefer), will be a good, old bread stuffing mixed with ham, sausage, pineapple, prunes, almonds, wild rice, shallots, sherry, herbs, and mirepoix. I cook my stuffing separately. Not as tasty, but safer, and more reliable. There will, of course, be plenty of homemade gravy to pour on everything, so, no worries. Stuffing is kind of my piece de resistance, the more complex, the better. I always include in my turkey dressing some mirepoix, some sort of wine, some sort of fruit, some sort of nuts, and some sort of charcuterie. I’ve never been a fan of oysters in stuffing.
Side dishes will include mashed potatoes, roasted parsnips and carrots, sweet corn, haricots verts, cranberry sauce, and some sort of sweet potatoes (or yams).
The thing about the sweet potatoes is, I can’t stand it when people add sugar of any kind to sweet potatoes. They’re so sweet already that they need no added sugar. Salt, yes. Butter, yes. Sugar, no. However, several members of my family love to pile on the candy when it comes to sweet potatoes, so they win. I may let my sister make some sort of marshmallow-encrusted abomination to satisfy their sweet teeth, and make a small pot of sweet potatoes roasted with tart apples and onions for myself. Alternatively, I could just throw some sweet potatoes, apples, beets, onions and shallots in with the parsnips and carrots, and roast them all in duck fat or EVOO and garlic. In fact, now that I think of it, that’s probably exactly what I’ll do. Which reminds me, I need to put beets on the shopping list.
And, oh, BTW, damn Rachel Ray to hell for actually getting me to say EVOO…anyone who thinks you can go to Florence, Italy, only spend 40 USD a day on food, and walk away with even the barest impression of the culinary temples of that wondrous city doesn’t even deserve the time of day. 40 bucks a day? I’m quite certain I could spent 40 dollars at Gilli or Rivoire just for an afternoon snack, let alone what I could blow on lunch at Coquinarius or Osteria de’ Benci, or, Heaven Forfend, a dinner at Trattoria Cibreo (not even the Ristorante!) or Alle Murate. Incidentally, I have spent more than 40 dollars in each and every one of these places on just one meal. Per person, in some cases, in several other cases, multiples of that number. What a maroon. But, enough Rachel bashing. We were talking about my Thanksgiving Dinner, right?
This year, I remembered to buy my parsnips early, because last year, the parsnips were all gone by the time I went shopping, so I ended up buying packs of soup greens just to get at the parsnips. Hmm…it looks like I’ve skipped turnips this year. Oh, well, no one will really miss turnips, will they?
For dessert, I will be making the traditional apple and pumpkin pies. I use only Granny Smith apples. I hate apples that aren’t tart. The apple pie will be served with aged cheddar cheese (for those who like that sort of thing), and both pies will be served with vanilla ice cream, and whipped cream. My sister will be buying a supermarket-grade coconut custard pie, Philistine that she is. She actually wanted to buy all the pies, but I put my foot down. No store-bought apple pie will dare show its face at my Thanksgiving table, unless it’s from a world-class bakery, like Miel, or the fabled Stork’s Bakery in Whitestone, Queens, that my family patronized for decades (I’ve heard Stork’s is still open, but not run by the same people anymore). Sadly, Miel is a bit of a drive just for a pie or two.
I’ll always recommend Miel, though, because it was started by the former pastry chef of Le Bec Fin, Bobby Bennett, who used to buy his gold leaf from me when I worked at an art store a couple of doors down, years ago. Every so often, he would come by with one of his creations for us lowly shop assistants. Miel makes excellent chocolates, by the by, so keep them in mind for Valentine’s Day. (Not so subtle hint: Buy me chocolates from Miel for Valentine’s Day!)
Drinks will be a white wine which I haven’t picked yet. It depends on what’s in…can’t make the trip to Moore Brothers (another Le Bec Fin alumni venture from Greg Moore, the former sommelier), so I’ll have to go with what I can find locally, fresh apple cider, and whole milk for the little ones.
I suppose I should serve a salad of some sort, so maybe I’ll do a quick baby spinach thing, since baby spinach is one of the few salad greens I’ll actually not choke on. A few croutons, some grape tomatoes, a sprinkle of bacon bits, a splash of vinagrette, and I’m good to go. Salad is something I don’t often bother with, unless it’s being prepared for me in a very good restaurant. I always have at least one veg on the table at every meal, so it’s not a big deal. Also, I utterly despise iceberg lettuce, so that tends to limit my salad options in a lot of places. Iceberg lettuce, to me, is one of the nastiest tasting things on the planet.
In my family, particularly when my mother’s mother was the one responsible for Thanksgiving Dinner, and the entire extended family congregated at her house, we had certain traditions like homemade chicken soup, shrimp cocktail, and steamed artichokes as starters. As time has gone on, the family has fragmented, so I will probably only be cooking for four adults and one child this year. Since this is the case, I probably won’t bother with starters. I’m already making enough food to feed us for a week.
I do sort of miss the years when we had 25+ people for Thanksgiving. The last time we did that was 2001, the year my wife and I moved into our new house. We had all her family and all my family there, six days after we moved in. The oven hadn’t even been tested, yet. My wife made a cake in the new oven the night before to test it, and burned it. Not a good sign, but aside from a slightly undercooked turkey (you should have seen the scene in the kitchen, with me, my wife, and my brother desperately hacking the turkey into bits to microwave them and get them on the table…), everything turned out fine.
That was also the last Thanksgiving my father was with us. Actually, it was that very day that we realized he been hiding his illness from everyone for quite some time. It turned out to be stomach cancer, and he died the following August.
For many years, we had Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners with my wife’s family, instead of mine. The traditions there were cold kielbasa as an hors d’oeuvre, and baccala soup and penne with vodka sauce starters. The same damn things at every holiday meal, because my wife’s aunt cooked to suit her husband to the exclusion of everyone else. But then, they were the ones with the house (estate, really) big enough to fit everyone, so who am I to complain?
So, that’s what I’ll be doing the next couple of days. Tomorrow is shopping and pie baking, then prepping for the next day’s cooking. What are you doing for Thanksgiving?
P.S. You’ll forgive me if I’ve missed a few French and/or Italian diacriticals here and there. I’m feeling lazy tonight.
“More and more, it’s becoming clear that progressives who had their hearts set on Obama were engaged in a huge act of self-delusion. Once you got past the soaring rhetoric you noticed, if you actually paid attention to what he said, that he largely accepted the conservative storyline, a view of the world, including a mythological history, that bears little resemblance to the facts.”— Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman, New York Times, 20 November 2010
UPDATE: Kate has apparently decided to recant. I’m extremely disappointed in her. Thanks to galaxyforest for the tip.
18 November 2010
I posted the following comment to Kate’s TypePad blog, after being alerted via my tumblr friends:
As a femme lesbian trans woman of color, the word “tranny” used by cis people, and even to an extent by trans men (against whom that term hasn’t been used as denigration to anywhere near the same extent as it has been used against trans women, by far and away), is highly offensive to me.
I will tolerate attempted reclamation of the word by other trans women, although, as I have written elsewhere, I believe it to be a fruitless effort that is doomed to failure.
Kate, thank you for recognizing that for a great many of us, that word will never be harmless.
“I definitely prefer expensive cocktails at Continental, building self-indulgent piles of small plates and sherry glasses at Amada, or being conspicuously trans at a sidewalk table at Parc with a carafe of the house wine and a tomato tarte.”— Gemma Catherine Seymour, 18 November 2010
Last night, while watching the football game down the pub, I stepped outside for a quick fag break at halftime. No one else was out there, probably because the weather was utterly horrid.
Some bloke leans out the door and asks me, “Are you The English Girl?”
I was a bit confused by this, to say the least, as at that particular pub, I’m not particularly well-known, except for by the staff. I have made one or two friends there, but in a besotted haze, so I can’t recall their names clearly.
Of course, being the tallest girl in the room by a very wide margin (5’ 15-1/2” in the boots I was wearing last night, see below), I’m certain my name has got around, but the first thought that went through my mind was:
I have a vague recollection of a girl I met a few times at that pub asking for my name, and after I replied, “Gemma Seymour,” asking where that name comes from. I may have responded that it’s an English name, chosen to complement the English part of my heritage. I was, of course, rather pissed at the time, and simply pleased to be chatted up by a girl who was buying me drinks. The bloke may have been hers, but I wouldn’t swear to it. I haven’t, to my knowledge, seen them in quite some time.
Me, last night: Jones New York Collection black, sleeveless, cowl neck, stretchy top; Gap “Always Skinny” jeans, Ralph Lauren black patent croc print belt; LifeStrides “Ultra” knee-high shiny black faux-leather 2.5” heel boots, Elie Tahari black velvet one-button blazer, Dean Harris Sterling Silver Citrine Flower necklace, Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver “Cross Tag” bracelet, Cole Haan black “Village” Medium Flap handbag, Nike “Imara Keeva” watch (black/chrome).
Stop making rape jokes. These jokes are becoming really popular right now and they are not funny. The other day, I heard a really famous musician say, “This is my rape face!” while narrowing his eyes and wrinkling up his nose. Another man sitting nearby replied, “Every face is a rape face!” and…