Food and Sex: The Politics of Exchange in Lynn Coady’s “Ice Cream Man”
by Liana Cusmano
Chicken, ice cream, soup. In Lynn Coady’s short story “Ice Cream Man,” food is exchanged for companionship without allowing for meaningful connection between individuals. The guy at the canteen has been offering the protagonist an ice-cream sandwich – food – for years, making the “same joke since [she was] seven years old” (34). The proverbial ice- cream sandwich is a stand-in for sex, and the guy at the canteen does eventually “give [her] the ice-cream sandwich he’s been talking about all these years” (35). He repays the sex that she routinely gives him with free snacks from the canteen and with rum (37). Food is thus exchanged for company, specifically for sex, but the relationship between the two individuals is based solely on intercourse, involving no depth, intimacy, or intellectual closeness. Later, the man hints that the girl ought to bring him fried chicken (39); suddenly she has become the primary beneficiary of the relationship, and he expects his offer of sex to be repaid with food. He is used to this method of exchange: “Every woman I’ve known has always tried to do nice things for me” (39).
The Soup Trade
The girl’s distant father has a similar attitude when he wants her to eat soup with him; he expects his culinary thoughtfulness to be compensated with company, although “he doesn’t even quite know why that is” (43). The relationships the girl has with the two men in her life are thus based on trading food for human companionship, but she shares no meaningful connection with her so-called boyfriend or with her father – in spite of all the soup and chicken involved.
Coady, Lynn. “Ice Cream Man.” Play the Monster Blind: Stories. Toronto: Doubleday, 2000. 27-43. Print.
A few years ago, I developed a small (literary) obsession with geraniums. These flowers, which are actually pelargoniums, are everywhere in Canadian literature. From the nineteenth century to the present, this domesticated exotic has proven itself extremely versatile in the imaginations of our writers.
During my initial research, I located a number of references to the geranium’s culinary uses, but at the time, I had to set these aside. Now, in the spirit of summertime fare, I can’t resist exploring my geranium inventory a little further.
Enthusiasts of author L.M. Montgomery will recall that Marilla Cuthbert has an apple-scented geranium growing in her kitchen window. During her first morning at Green Gables, Anne names this plant “Bonny.” It’s a sentimental gesture, a sign of this orphan’s desire for a loving home (Boyd 83-84). In their documentation of this scene, the editors of The Annotated Anne of Green Gables state that as a kitchen herb, the geranium’s leaves “were used sometimes in flavourings” (81). Although we never see Marilla cooking with geraniums, a quick internet search produces numerous recipes: geranium flavoured cakes, sauces, and teas. Continue reading →
Welcome to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and the birthplace of Confederation!
A tour of Charlottetown’s literary fare would not be complete without a mention of the island’s most famous author L.M. Montgomery and the iconic 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables.
Although this young orphan grows up in the country near the town of Avonlea, Anne makes memorable trips to the capital. In the chapter “An Epoch in Anne’s Life,” a young Anne is invited to travel with her friend Diana Barry to visit wealthy Aunt Josephine Barry. Miss Barry takes the girls to the Exhibition grounds where many Avonlea residents are in attendance, winning competitions for their prized agricultural products and home-made edible goods.
The next evening, the girls attend a concert at the Academy and afterwards go to a restaurant for ice cream at 11:00 p.m. Oh the decadence of city life—Anne isn’t sure at first how she will “ever return to common life again” (270). But upon reflection, she realizes what she truly values:
“It’s nice to be eating ice-cream at brilliant restaurants . . . once in awhile; but as a regular thing I’d rather be in the east gable at eleven, sound asleep, but kind of knowing even in my sleep that the stars were shining outside and that the wind was blowing in the firs across the brook” (270).