The Dramahound has been thinking about food lately. Not that there’s anything new about that, but this is more than the usual “what’s for dinner?”
There are not a lot of plays about food. I did see a hilarious ten-minute play by Melissa Fendell about the history of the potato a few months ago at the Milk Can Theatre Co., along with a play by my friend Cheryl Davis that involved a recipe for salmon poach in a dishwasher. M.L. Kinney has written a really creepy play about gluttony- a couple is so into what they’re eating and each other, they let their offstage baby die. Brecht mentions bread a lot (he would, wouldn’t he?), as does Shakespeare in Coriolanus.
My scene partner from grad school, Giuliano Hazan, now is a chef and writes cookbooks. The scene we did that I remember best was from The Country Girl, and when I had to slap him, my hand slipped and threw his glasses across the studio. But he forgave me. Before we went to school together, Giuliano translated at least one play of Dario Fo’s into English. There must be a Fo play about food.
Sunday night my boyfriend and I were cooking, which we do for recreation and because it’s something we can do together. Otherwise, that’s what take-out menus are for. We made a roasted vegetable dish from one of Giuliano’s books, and my boyfriend started waxing rhapsodically (as he is wont to do) about the Roman countryside, and what might Cincinnatus have had for dinner from his farm. And the more we talked about it, the more we were surprised. There’s no pasta in fourth century B.C.E. Italy- that doesn’t come until Marco Polo brings it back from China. Probably no rice or risotto yet, either. No potatoes or turkey, they’re American. Tomatoes are from South America. So old Cincinnatus has wine, olives, probably figs, some kind of bread. Not quite fettucine alfredo.