I remember an ex-boyfriend reading this book a few years ago. We both liked to read so we were always in the middle of a book but I recall that he was particularly into this one, raving about it to me even if I didn’t really know who she was. All I knew of Patti Smith was a passing acquaintance with her song Because The Night. I confused her with Patty Smyth sometimes. I KNOW RIGHT.
After reading the book myself, I wish I read it with him back then. He was a musician and I think it would have been really special if we could’ve talked about the book, listened to her music, marveled about her amazing life and all the colorful characters in it. I’m sure he would’ve excitedly taught me to appreciate her more.
Because I think I could use some help. I always found poetry difficult to grasp. I’ve tried listening to her stuff and I think she is way too cool for me.
My main fascination with her has to do with her strength of character and her remarkable relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe. It was the kind of relationship that made me wonder about soulmates, about living out karmic cycles over many lifetimes with one person. About destiny and magic and how maybe that’s all real. And although many of her artist references flew over my head, I still found myself enjoying this book immensely. This is one of my favorite books this year.
There isn’t much mention of food in this book – Patti Smith was literally a starving artist before she rose to fame. She made a lot of instant coffee and half a hotdog was dinner. Chocolate milk, a treat. There is but one meal she writes about making in the book, a meal that I think suggests that she might be a bit of a foodie, around the time she is about to release her seminal debut album Horses and able to afford foodstuff. It’s the breakfast she makes before heading out to be photographed by Robert Mapplethorpe for what would become this iconic shot:
Of this photo, Patti Smith says, “When I look at it now, I never see me. I see us.” Swoon. I die.
Anyway. That morning, she rolls out of bed to pick up crusty bread from a Moroccan bakery. She picks up mint and anchovies. Back home, she drizzles olive oil inside the roll, stuffs it with anchovies and ends with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. She boils water to make mint tea. Foo- to the -die.
With Patti Smith and her general badass-ery in mind, I tried reimagining that meal.
(My white “breakfast tray” and the lovely pink peony are recycled from the package Dove sent me. Thank you! 💕)
Instead of using olive oil, I used half an avocado. Topped with spicy Spanish sardines and a sprinkling of Japanese togarashi, all on a toasted slice of store-bought walnut loaf. I ended up dousing the thing with my favorite hot sauce because togarashi delivers approximately zero heat.
I’m on the fence about avocado toast. I love that avocado’s a super healthy alternative to butter and the texture does a good job of mimicking butter too but the flavor is kind of meh. You can’t have it all I suppose. But it sure is pretty!
Instead of mint tea, I made a minty lemonade using the yummy lemon preserves I made last time. (Quick update: I just made a second batch using brown sugar. Excooooited!) Just muddle some of the mint sprigs with the preserved lemons and syrup before adding water and ice. So fresh and the perfect accompaniment to fishy toast.
This was such a wholesome healthy meal and it felt like an edible representation of how Patti Smith managed to be smack in the middle of the New York art scene in the 60’s-70’s while being completely sober. I’m tickled.
Thank you Patti Smith for nourishing my body, mind, soul. I even got to reminisce about an old boyfriend because of you! Perhaps I could’ve made this meal with him with you playing in the background. Ugh, no. I never did like cooking with a boyfriend.