Weekend Reading, 4.20.14
April 20, 2014

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Well. I’m really so touched by all of the excitement about my book announcement. Thank you, friends. To everyone who pre-ordered or is considering it, I hope you’ll be pleased. And I can’t wait to share more news about the book and its publication with you as the next two months go by.

For now, it’s back to weekend reading as usual.


Since it’s Easter Sunday, I thought it would be appropriate to begin with this gorgeous, authentic, and traditional braided Easter wreath with pistachios. So lovely.


OK, pizza hummus? Seriously, Allyson? I look forward to making this and promptly eating all of it.

Spicy Lentil & Quinoa Wraps with Tahini Sauce

Julie has done it again, this time with her quinoa and lentil wraps with spicy tahini sauce. What a perfect lunch dish!


This spring soba bowl, from Chel of Chel Rabbit, is absolutely gorgeous and totally inspiring.

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 9.23.25 AM

And to wrap things up, I am totes lusting after Kristy’s lemon blueberry granola.


1. A sweet meditation, via the New Yorker, on random acts of kindness (with some literary context thrown in for good measure).

2. Very cool article on the possibility that bacteriophages may be a useful ally in the fight against antibiotic-resistant infections.

3. 5 Things to Know About Quinoa, via the New York Times. I know most of them, and I bet you do, too, but I was interested in the bit about the future of quinoa farming.

4. A troubling article about childbirth practices in Brazil. In the country’s private hospitals, 82 percent of all babies are born by C-section, a statistic which the article attributes in part to laziness on the part of doctors, as well as sexism and scorn for a woman’s experience of childbirth. It is also driven by economics, since C-sections are more lucrative for the doctors who perform them. Obviously, C-sections are often necessary, if not downright life-saving, but women who may not need them shouldn’t feel forced into the procedure. Protests are being mounted locally, and hopefully they’ll make an impact.

5. One of my readers sent me a link to this article on Facebook, and I read it with great interest this morning. It’s an essay claiming that some of the moral conviction that we once commonly attached to sexual mores has been transferred over to food. The author notes that today, most young people regard sexual habits as a matter of preference, not a matter of right and wrong. This, she goes on to argue, is very much how people fifty or sixty years ago regarded food–before so many consumers became concerned with GM crops, organic vs. non, and so on. Conversely, she analyzes the ways in which vegetarianism and food politics in general have shifted to attach moral imperative to food choices, and draws a parallel between the way we regard eating today, and the way we once regarded sex (i.e., not only a private matter, but an act defined by some very clear “shoulds” and “should nots”).

It’s interesting. I found the analysis to be a little too neat, but the parallels Eberstadt draws necessitate a certain suspension of literalness, and I followed along until the end. One of her closing points is that we have more strong feeling about the ethics of our food choices because more information about nutrition has become available since our grandmothers’ time, and that information directs our sentiments about what we should be eating. Fair, but I bristled a bit when she questioned why information we’ve gathered since the sexual revolution hasn’t done the same. Specifically, she cites a number of studies that show married people to be happier than single ones, and others showing that children from “broken homes” are more troubled than children with married parents. These studies may be true, but the ones on child development also seem cherry-picked (her citations are limited), and I have to wonder if they don’t fail to indicate how many children have better lives because they don’t grow up in homes with unhappily married, combative parents, or ignore the great many people who are partnered and unhappy (but possibly hesitant to admit as much), or the many people who are single and satisfied. Even if the point is to suggest that there’s clearly something other than data driving our mapping of morals onto food and eating, this bit lost me. But that’s partially a subjective reaction, and while I can’t say it resonated entirely, I found the article thought-provoking.

And with that, I wish everyone a lovely Sunday.


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  1. Daw, thanks for including my recipe 🙂 I have been following your site for awhile and it was such an honor to be included in your weekend reading roundup.

    Enjoyed your review of “Is Food the New Sex?”, too.



  2. Thoughts on #5…interesting to say the least!

    I see the parallels, but as you point out, the argument gets a bit hazy…

    “Specifically, she cites a number of studies that show married people to be happier than single ones, and others showing that children from “broken homes” are more troubled than children with married parents.”
    Anytime we’re gauging happiness, it’s important to realize that happiness is a highly subjective term, not quite an exact science.

    In regards to the moralizing of food, it has become quite polarizing, hasn’t it? Though I see it as mostly a good thing. It’s caused a lot of folks to question where their food is coming from, why they are eating it. Food politics are just as fascinating, if not more so, than sexual politics, IMO.

  3. Thanks for posting about birthing practices in Brazil. I saw the article earlier this week and it is heartbreaking to me, both because of the unnecessary surgeries and how they represent another form of oppression of women. That being said, I don’t think the States are that radically different. The perspective that birth is something we’re “at risk” for (public health terminology) and that needs to be feared and medical-ized underlies both Brazil’s practices and how women in the States are taught about birth (e.g. materials that talk about “The Discomforts of Pregnancy” instead of “Physical Changes during Pregnancy”). I don’t think C-Sections should be demonized by any means – they save lives and sometimes they are the only way to go – but I do think they’re relied on very heavily and that women are pushed into them more often than expected.

  4. Congrats on the cookbook, Gena!

    I read the article on c-sections in Brasil with some interest. As I think you know, my son’s father is Brazilian, and I’m very connected to the Brazilian immigrant community here in the US. So of course I’m familiar with this preference for c-sections among Brazilian women. But from my (many) conversations with Brazilian women, now in the position of desiring a ceasarian but not able to elect the procedure, I got the impression it was due to a desire to maintain vaginal integrity and sexual prowess they feared might be compromised in natural childbirth. (I was influenced enough by this line of thinking to hope for, and to have, a ceasaren myself.) I therefore had no idea that the phenomenon is driven more by economics (and bullying by doctors) than by culture, so pervasive is this idea among the Brazilian women I have encountered that the c-section is the more desireable way to deliver children.

    • This is so interesting to me…thank you for sharing! As someone who splits her time between ob/gyn and freelance sex ed work, I can’t help but wonder if the belief about the benefit of C-sections (vaginal integrity and sexual prowess) aren’t also driven by the same forces as the c-section rate.

      After doing this work for many years I’m admittedly a bit skeptical, especially since many women go on to have amazing sex lives after their baby is delivered and the problems that most often face new moms (e.g. feeling disconnected from their bodies, not fully understanding how to balance their sexuality with their motherhood, lack of time, sleep, and energy, etc) are the same regardless of how momma gave birth.

  5. Thanks Gena for sharing my lentil wrap! It has been a staple around here ever since I posted it. I’m loving the tacos. 🙂

    The other recipes look delicious too. Pizza hummus…what?

    So sad about Brazil! Wow, I’ve had two children, both natural thank goodness, and can’t imagine having to go through a C-section. It’s scary to me to think that the people of Brazil my one day be conditioned to believe that a C-section is the way child birth should be. Natural is amazing but of course sometimes a is the only way.

    Quinoa is my favorite grain of all time! I look forward to more farmers being able to grow this wonderful nutritious crop. I have no doubt that quinoa will soon be a household staple. 🙂

    Have a lovely Sunday and I can’t wait to get my hands on your new book! Congratulations xo

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