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Articles / Alison Bechdel Has Food Figured Out

Alison Bechdel Has Food Figured Out

Published April 19, 2022

And, obviously, cartooning

“It’s very rare that I talk about food or eating in any of my books. And it’s not because eating and cooking aren’t important to me; it’s because they’re so completely woven into my life, in this deeply organic way, so I somehow have no reason to really show that. There’s nothing I need to work out about my food life. I eat like a parody of a Vermont lesbian.”

I’ve been following Alison Bechdel for almost 40 years, when we started appearing in the same weekly newspapers. Her long-running comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, which followed a set group of lesbian characters (and is the origin of the Bechdel test, which has become a frequently used metric in cultural discussion of film and television), was a riot, but also, I feel, cemented Bechdel as a non-cliché example of the word “trailblazer.” There had been nothing like Dykes to Watch Out For, so it was just amazing to see it in more or less mainstream papers “back then” (ie, early eighties).

An amazing cartoonist, Bechdel is perhaps best known for her graphic memoir Fun Home, which focused on her life growing up, her own sexuality, and her relationship with her gay father. Fun Home was turned into a Broadway musical, the first with a lesbian protagonist, and was nominated for 12 Tonys, including Best Musical, which it won. (Bechdel also happens to be a 2014 recipient of the MacArthur Genius Award — no surprise there.)

When a copy of Bechdel’s new book, The Secret to Superhuman Strength, arrived, and I found that she was a fitness fanatic but also a runner — which I have been for much of my life — I thought that was enough of an excuse to have her on Food with Mark Bittman.

I’m ecstatic to have her on.

The recipe featured in the episode — inspired by Bechdel — is below. Please listen, subscribe, and review! And we’d love to hear your food-related questions, as we’d like to start doing live Q&A: Email us at food@markbittman.com.

Thank you, as always. — Mark

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Peanutty Chopped Salad

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes

Chopped salad is a staple, and you can use literally any vegetable that you can eat raw. Taking the extra time to chop the greens and vegetables is always worth it, because dressing and ingredients become evenly distributed, and everything is much easier to eat. I almost never make salad any other way.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter

  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped into bite-size pieces

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 4 celery stalks, chopped

  • 1 small red onion, chopped

  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped

  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped

  • 8 to 10 radishes, chopped

Instructions

1. Put the peanut butter, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl with 1/2 cup water; whisk until smooth.

2. Add the remaining ingredients, toss to coat in the dressing, and serve right away.

— Recipe from The VB6 Cookbook

Peanutty Chopped Salad
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