What I especially love in food and drink, that which is complex and pleasurable on many levels, is also what draws me to the writing of Jane Bowles—her style might as well be the umami of the literary world. Reading Two Serious Ladies would be an archaeological dig to a psychoanalyst. What I loved about this novel was the sense of fullness one has in following the strange maneuvers of her characters—unpredictable, weighty moves—one has the sense there is moral churning, but without the usual indigestion from an obviously righteous-leaning text. What is it lurking under the surface here? I could never quite trace the shape of it, and the search drove me mad and wild for two hundred pages, and then I realized that must be that same lure that drove the two serious lady protagonists onto ships, leaving ports time and again, sailing past relationships never fully realized, and looking up at stars without a sextant.
“In order to go ahead, you must leave things behind, which most people are unwilling to do. Your first pain, you carry it around with you like a lodestone in your breast because all tenderness will come from there. You must carry it with you through your whole life but you must not circle around it. You must give up the search for those symbols which only serve to hide its face from you….For God’s sake, a ship leaving port is still a wonderful thing to see.” -Jane Bowles
I read most of this novel from my call room when things were dull and then from this cozy perch on the couch next to one very Serious Lady indeed. That makes Two Serious Ladies. The autumn is a delicious time in the kitchen. I’m hoarding gourds as they dump into the grocery stores from the north, though they don’t last as long here in the tropics as they did in the breakfast nook in Minnesota. We’ve got good eggplants around town, but the squash blossoms wither in the heat.
Herbed Butternut Squash Pizza
Adapted from Penzeys
dough for pizza crust (I have many recipes you can search for pizza dough if you want to make your own)
2 Cups 3/4-inch cubes butternut squash or pumpkin
4 tsp. olive oil, divided
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 TB. Tuscan Sunset or Frozen Pizza Seasoning
2 TB. basil pesto
4 oz. goat cheese
1/4 medium red onion, halved and very thinly sliced in half rounds
1/2 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 Cup young chard, cut into very fine strips
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, optional
Preheat oven to 400°. In a 1-gallon zip-top bag, combine the squash, half of the olive oil, salt, pepper and the Tuscan Sunset or other Pizza Seasoning. Toss to coat. Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake at 400° until soft and lightly browned, about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.
Be careful not to break up the cubes. Remove from the oven and set aside. Increase the oven temperature to 500°. Sprinkle a clean surface with flour. Pat out your pizza dough to make a nice round. Brush the rest of the olive oil onto your cooking pan (you can also cook the pizza right on the oven rack, though things will fall off sometimes). Spread the pesto in a thin layer over the crust. Top with the squash, goat cheese, onion, mozzarella, chard, remaining salt and pepper and crushed red pepper flakes if using). Bake at 500° until crispy and the cheese melts, 10-12 minutes. Serve immediately.