Thoughts on Yogurt

Yogurt fascinates me. I don’t like eating it because it is just too weird, a bizarre amalgamation of other dairy products: part liquid like milk, part flowing solid like ice cream, part fermentation like cheese. But I really enjoy watching other people eat it because I get to observe someone interacting with the above odd qualities, which are visually fascinating. There is something comforting about the way a metal spoon clicks on a plastic yogurt container as one is scraping up the last few bites. It entrances me.

The epitome of the satisfying nature of this yogurt voyeurism is present in a scene from Stranger Than Fiction, where Dustin Hoffman’s character (who is always eating—one of my favorite running gags ever) is finishing his yogurt and gets a drop on his lip, which he quickly scoops off with his finger and sucks into his mouth. It is so viscerally physical and uninhibited as to be sublime.

(Incidentally, the portrayal of Hoffman’s character, an English professor, drives me nuts! He claims he is swamped that semester because he is teaching four classes as well as directing several dissertations [three, I think]. It is clear from this statement that the movie’s writer has no clue how academia works. First off, no legitimate Ph.D.-granting institution [i.e., real universities, not counting online for-profit “universities” such as the University of Phoenix] would have professors teaching four courses per semester. Secondly, someone with as large of an office as Hoffman has [completely lined with bookshelves!] who has taught the highly-specialized courses that he mentions teaching would be a full professor teaching two courses maximum, with at least one if not both being graduate seminars. This misrepresentation of academia is a problem in television and film in general, with Ross Geller on Friends being perhaps the most egregious example. Good Will Hunting is one of the rare examples which gets it mostly right.)

Avocado is another food which I love to watch people eat because of its texture. I used to hate it, but then I watched a housemate make a batch of guacamole, and it looked so good that I was compelled to try it. Avocado is now one of my favorite foods; I’m having some for lunch today.

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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