Thanks, Ladies! Have Some Pizza! (Sunday Simmerings)

Hi folks! I’ve been meaning to do some random, more personal, posts on the weekends from time to time, so here’s the first. I’ll even break it up into segments so it’s easy to digest.

book

Book of the Month
For the first book, we’ve got one that was just released – it’s Perilous and Fair; Women in the Works and Life of J.R.R. Tolkien edited by Janet Brennan Croft and Leslie A. Donovan. Basically, this book is a great counter to the understandable criticism that Tolkien’s works are basically sausage fests. It contains fourteen articles by folks such as Cami Agan, Kristine Larsen, and John Rateliff.

I heard about it first through Rateliff’s blog, and since it just showed up in the mail this week, I’ve not had a chance to read more than an article or two (though I’ve perused them all). Rateliff, the only male among the authors, was also the only author to write a bio piece on Tolkien, entitled, “The Missing Women: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lifelong Support for Women’s Higher Education.” All the other works are written by women, and most are about some aspect of the Legendarium.

Wishing to read something pertinent to the first parts of the Silmarillion, I read Kristine Larson’s “The Power of Pity and Tear: The Evolution of Nienna in the Legendarium” first. It’s basically a wonderful essay tracing the character of Nienna from the Book of Lost Tales writing to the version which appeared in the published Silmarillion.

Feminism and Tolkien don’t always have common ground, and it’s nice to see an entire book dedicated to building such a place. I can’t recommend it enough. And most importantly, the book, though published by the very small Mythopoeic Press, and a very nice quality trade paperback, is only $18. Seriously, get this.

Not a Sausage Fest
One of the things that I really really like about this Tolkien blog is that many of the readers are women – they have been since the beginning. I have no idea why I’m blessed in this way when many of the other very fine Tolkien blogs are seemingly frequented by mostly men. But I couldn’t be happier.

Sure, I’m grateful for anyone who comments, but it’s just so refreshing to hear what women have to say about Tolkien. On the American Civil War blog that I write, the readers are almost totally men. The comments are few (my writing style there doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for it), but for the most part, when there are comments, it’s men. Often very strange “the south shall rise again” men who have very little concept of history. But I digress…. Doing this Tolkien blog is really one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Thank you for making it so.

Other Stuff
One of the things that I miss about the East Coast is pizza. We just don’t have many good pizza places out here. And while few that serve vegan pizzas are pretty good, they also tend to be a bit pricey. So I’ve taken it upon myself to try to perfect a good New York Style pizza, starting with the dough.

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Now, I can’t toss a pie to save my life, but I’ve learned some other techniques to getting a good and super thin crust. I’ve found a great source for Caputo 00 Flour, and even have a peel and pizza steel. I’ve learned about cold rising and the difference between New York style and Neapolitan. We’re even working on Calzones and (eventually) Stromboli! The results are absolutely worth the effort! The pizzas are every bit as good as the ones I can get in Seattle. True, they’re nothing like the ones back East, but that’s okay.

This has become a regular Saturday night thing. I make the dough on Wednesday (for now, using a different recipe each time), let it rise/ferment in the fridge for three days and then form it into a thin 14″ pie. It’s awesome! Pizza!

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13 thoughts on “Thanks, Ladies! Have Some Pizza! (Sunday Simmerings)

  1. Your blog has a very anti-Rohan bias! The Eorlingas shall rise again!

    I need to get this book. I’m often frustrated by the “tolkien hates women” argument but beyond LotR proper (which does have some convincing counter-arguments) I don’t have a lot of material to work with. I am baffled as to how people can see Rosie Cotton or Eowyn as anything but feminist prototypes at the least.

    Pizza looks good. Maybe that will be our Sunday meal too… Of course being in NY it’ll be wonderful… *Smugly nods*

    • Rohan: Heritage Not Hate!

      I really recommend the book. It’s really well done and relatively cheap.

      New pizza I made yesterday was somehow even better. I think I got this!

  2. Personally, I don’t get the sausage-fest complaint, against Tolkien’s work or others who write/wrote in that time or earlier. I just take it as a function of how things are/were. I’m being careful not to turn this into another personal rant, but to me, I don’t keep score about niggles like how many times characters of certain profiles turn up in a story. If it’s a good story, I’ll finish it regardless. If it’s great, I’m a happy camper. So what if a book ticks all the “right” boxes, I’m not gonna waste time if it’s not taking my attention and holding it hostage.

    It is interesting that your blog readership is female-skewed. I don’t think my thoughts on this would contribute anything useful to thoughts about the phenomenon since I gravitate toward books by male authors. But my impression of the Tolkien fandom is also usually it’s guys with the opinions. But then, I don’t get out all that much 😛

    Well, for what it’s worth, that pizza’s making me crave some pasta!

    • Seeing it in a historical context is really important. I understand the need for authors to be different now. But to complain about dead ones in this respect is a bit… meh. I also get women not being able to relate to, say, Boromir or some other manly fellow. To that I say, I can’t really either. So…

      From what I’ve seen, sadly, the scholarship is for the men, dressing like Elves is for the women. It’s rare to see the crossover. However, since this isn’t a blog that references the movies or cosplay (nothing wrong with either), I’m pretty happy to notice that the readership is less male than first suspected.

      • “I also get women not being able to relate to, say, Boromir or some other manly fellow. To that I say, I can’t really either. So…”

        Sorry, but I had to have a good guffaw about women relating to male characters in fantasy works. Perhaps not to, but there’s quite some who relate with Boromir (unless my feel for fandom is off kilter) 😛 But I get what you mean. Cosplay does seem rather female-dominated, though I wouldn’t label the male opiniating scholarship. I’ve seen a few doozies. 😛

        Totally agree about the complaining. To each his/her own, but well, I just don’t get the thinking behind it. Anyway, moving on! 😀 (btw, I like this weekend diversion from the usual)

        • VERY true about the scholarship. I was more talking about actual scholarly works. Books, papers, etc. It’s really refreshing to see the work of so many female scholars in the book that I mentioned. I’m really happy to see a bit of that here, too. Coming from a history background, most of the scholars there are makes, and it’s likewise refreshing to see women publishing in that field (and not only about womens issues in that field).

          Weekends are made for diversions, which is how I devoured the whole White Queen series in two days. (the tv show, not the books)

          • I think scholarship in that sense is also a function of the times. What I didn’t get for a long time though, was why being chefs (chefing?) such a male occupation. But then some wit mentioned guys cook for interest, while to women it was part of the job, and it made all the sense in the world.

            I had to look up “White Queen”. Interesting. I liked “The Tudors”, so am piqued by this. Thanks!

            • I don’t know for sure, but bet the chef thing goes back to European royalty. That would be my guess.

              And speaking of, if you like the Tudors, think of this as a sort of prequel. It’s apparently more historically accurate, though not as well done. Starts nine years in to War of the Roses, and continues through to Henry Tudor. Like I said, it’s not great, but fun enough.

  3. I’m adding that book to my reading list! Honestly, I never even heard those sorts of arguments until I hit college and a professor (who happened to be a woman) thought it odd that I was interested in Tolkien. And even when I did, I never understood the big deal. So there are a lot of men. So what? Doesn’t that, in some ways, make characters like Eowyn, Arwen, and Rosie Cotton even more special? But I’ll stop before I start ranting. 🙂

    I had no idea that the West Coast wasn’t so into pizza. Things I take for granted. I can’t make a good New York style at home, but I do have a dough recipe that’s crisp on the outside and doughy on the inside. Just yeast, hot water, salt, and (at least partly white) flour.

    • I can definitely understand wishing there were more female characters involved. I certainly do. What I like about this book is that it’s not really a response to that criticism as much as it’s a book looking into women in Tolkien’s writings.

      West Coast sucks for pizza. Not enough Italians! Once I get my recipe as perfected as I can get it, I’ll share it. For now, I use 00 Caputo flour and it’s perfect! Also, a bit of sugar to give the yeast something to do during the 3 to 5 day cold rise. Which means I get to make more dough tonight!

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