DAY 1 , RECIPE 1
The Road to Hell Is
Paved with Leeks and Potatoes
As far as I know, the only evidence supporting the theory that Julia Child
first made Potage Parmentier during a bad bout of ennui is her own recipe for
it. She writes that Potage Parmentier- which is just a Frenchie way of saying
potato soup - "smells good, tastes good, and is simplicity itself to
make." It is the first recipe in the first book she ever wrote. She
concedes that you can add carrots or broccoli or green beans if you want, but
that seems beside the point, if what you're looking for is simplicity itself.
Simplicity itself. It sounds like poetry, doesn't it? It sounds like just what the doctor ordered.
It wasn't what my doctor ordered, though. My doctor - my gynecologist, to be specific - ordered a baby.
"There are the hormonal issues in your case, with the PCOS, you know about that already. And you are pushing thirty, after all. Look at it this way - there will never be a better time." This was not the first time I'd heard this. It had been happening for a couple of years now, ever since I'd sold some of my eggs for $7,500 in order to pay off credit card debt. Actually, that was the second time I'd "donated"- a funny way of putting it, since when you wake up from the anesthesia less a few dozen ova and get dressed, there's a check for thousands of dollars with your name on it waiting at the receptionist's desk. The first time was five years ago, when I was twenty-four, impecunious and fancyfree. I hadn't planned on doing it twice, but three years later I got a call from a doctor with an unidentifiable European accent who asked me if I'd be interested in flying down to Florida for a second go-round, because "our clients were very satisfied with the results of your initial donation." Egg donation is still a new enough technology that our slowly evolving legal and etiquette systems have not yet quite caught up; nobody knows if egg donators are going to be getting sued for child support ten years down the line or what. So discussions on the subject tend to be knotted with imprecise pronouns and euphemisms. The upshot of this phone call, though, was that there was a little me running around Tampa or somewhere, and the little me's parents were happy enough with him or her that they wanted a matched set. The honest part of me wanted to shout, "Wait, no - when they start hitting puberty you'll regret this!" But $7,500 is a lot of money.
Anyway, it was not until the second harvesting (they actually call it "harvesting"; fertility clinics, it turns out, use a lot of vaguely apocalyptic terms) that I found out I had polycystic ovarian syndrome, which sounds absolutely terrifying, but apparently just meant that I was going to get hairy and fat and I'd have to take all kinds of drugs to conceive. Which means, I guess, that I haven't heard my last of crypto-religious obstetric jargon.
So. Ever since I was diagnosed with this PCOS, two years ago, doctors have been obsessing over my childbearing prospects. I've even been given the Pushing Thirty speech by my avuncular, white-haired orthopedist (what kind of twenty-nine-year-old has a herniated disk, I ask you?).
At least my gynecologist had some kind of business in my private parts. Maybe that's why I heroically did not start bawling immediately when he said this, as he was wiping off his speculum. Once he left, however, I did fling one of my navy faille pumps at the place where his head had been just a moment before. The heel hit the door with a thud, leaving a black scuff mark, then dropped onto the counter, where it knocked over a glass jar of cotton swabs. I scooped up all the Q-tips from the counter and the floor and started to stuff them back into the jar before realizing I'd probably gotten them all contaminated, so then I shoved them into a pile next to an apothecary jar full of fresh needles and squeezed myself back into the vintage forties suit I'd been so proud of that morning when Nate from work told me it made my waist look small while subtly eyeing my cleavage, but which on the ride from lower Manhattan to the Upper East Side on an un-air-conditioned 6 train had gotten sweatstained and rumpled. Then I slunk out of the room, fifteen-buck co-pay already in hand, the better to make my escape before anyone discovered I'd trashed the place.
Copyright © 2005 by Julie Powell
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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