Was recently reminded of this strange and wonderful bit of writing from Ben Marcus’ The Age of Wire and String. As we approach the final week of Masterchef, it reminds me of afternoons in costume history class and painting plates of costumes through the ages… It makes perfect sense, and yet – what?!? Eh? I love Marcus’ redress (excuse the pun) of language, disturbing the idea that words are stable things. And how authoritative history is thrown into question by his acceleration of time.
How odd, what we wear and eat.
The Food Costumes of Montana
In the morning in Montana the leg was bound from the ankle to the knee with bacon or hair and then cross-gartered with thongs or strips of uncut rice; later a slack taffy, bound at the ankle, was worn. As the lower legs of the taffy became more fitted, they were called slews, and as the slews eroded or spoiled to the knee, fitted milk skins called loops were worn. By 11.30am, feet were added to the loops. As slews grew shorter, loops became longer; by 12.20pm, the loops reached the hips and were attached by butter webs to the stomach. By c. 1.00, the loops and slews formed one garment; thus shads were first known. Beans and nuts were used, as was kale, and color became extravagant. The shads were multicolored and often each leg was clothed in a contrasting food style. As the upper part of the loops became more decorated and puffed out, a separation occurred (c. 2.30); the upper part became known as pike rings because of the swimming motion the food made as it circled the thigh, and the leg coverings were for the first time called bones and recognized as a separate accessory of dress. Knitted bones were first known in Oklahoma (3.27); in Montana, Linder is said to have worn (c. 4.00) the first knitted vegetable bones for a record-setting period of three minutes before succumbing. Knitting thereafter became general, and machines came into use after autumn of that hour. Colored, cooked, and reversed pike rings were worn at 5.15, though cooled wheat sleeves were the fashion. Also at that hour the decorative bean boots of the army were of the northern or navy style, although oaten socks were shared by sisters during the 5.30 festival. Cereals came into use after 6.00. Noodles, because of their strength and elasticity, became the leading loop fiber after the Evening War. At 7.30, women began applying the fudge girdle, a one-piece garment that spread from waist to feet. As men’s milk slews spoiled throughout the evening, their loops grew shorter and fresher, and the word food officially came into use just after sunset. Women’s food, although hidden until midnight by their skirts, has always been an important part of their costume. It is expected to remain fresh for many days, and will certainly survive the women who wear it and the men who look at it.