Sunday, January 24, 2010


"I always wonder why some people see things as weird and some people don’t." –tim burton

Jacques Henri Lartigue, 1903 Howard Greenberg Gallery

I recently got into a discussion with an artist about individuality versus conformity. Is one better than the other, and aren't they just different sides of the same coin? Without one, the other wouldn't exist. It seems to me that individuality is an illusion; even in freedom of expression there's conformity. Guidelines that are inherent in everything that exists, whether it's a movement, a new school of thought, or a revolution of a social, political, intellectual, or creative bent. We live in a society that functions as a whole, and we're just cogs in the machine. Throw a monkey wrench into it, and the entire system breaks down. Without conformity, society would fall into chaos. Laws, rules, order - these are the parameters in which society remains well-oiled and functioning.

Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Salvador Dali, René Magritte

On the flip-side, individuality, and creative and artistic expressions are important. Some make small attempts to break the mold by expressing themselves through dress, interests, or hobbies. Others attempt a rebellious coup d'état, a blitzkrieg of revolutionary ideas that will change how we view the world, and how it views us. People like Copernicus whose idea that the planets revolve around the sun turned everyone's thinking around, Albert Einstein whose offbeat creativity and genius stemmed from his utter disregard for authority, and his refusal to conform. Or Thomas Edison, one of the most prolific inventor, scientist and businessman to live, or the Surrealist movement in the 1920's led by artists like French poet André Breton, and painters René Magritte and Salvador Dali. We owe our progress, discoveries, and breakthroughs to those who had the courage to be different. Sooner or later, most of us cave under the pressure, forced to curb our spontaneous desires to avoid being labeled eccentric or weird, or because we fear being alone. Even as we seek to be different, we all want to belong to something bigger, to be accepted by others. Nothing is as evident of this as modern culture, where there's a tendency to jump on the band-wagon, as a reflection of camaraderie, or the admission price to be a part of a group. From the first moment we are exposed to outside influences, there is a need to be like everyone else. We're taught to follow social norms at home, school, and the work place. To be different is to be dangerous, a loose canon to be watched with a wary suspicious eye.

Modern life is confusing, and sometimes our choices aren't so clear. It may lead us in extreme directions of either conformity or individuality, but like everything else there's a necessity for balance. There's always a chance to make our mark, to march to the beat of another drum. But I think it's more important to stay true to ourselves, and that comes from finding your authentic voice or expression. Ralph Waldo Emerson believed we are creatures of growth and change, responsive to the world around us. And through our experiences, we learn to adapt, come into and breathe new life into ourselves, possibly evolve into someone different. A self-evolution that sometimes contradicts our former selves. But without contradictions, we can never understand the full measure of life.

Fluffernutter sandwich is just about the quintessential American childhood sandwich of days gone by. If you don't know what it is, it's peanut butter and a marshmallow creme spread known as Fluff between two pieces of white bread. It's particularly popular in New England, and Massachusetts even went so far as to propose Fluffernutter as the official state sandwich. For generations, kids grew up with the sticky-sweet, snow-white confection known as Marshmallow Fluff, a product made by Durkee-Mower. Allen Durkee and his partner Fred Mower went into business in 1920, making hard candy and lollipops. They bought the formula for marshmallow cream from Archibald Querry who had been making it in his kitchen and selling it door to door before WWI. He sold the formula - a well-beaten mixture of corn syrup, sugar, dried egg white, and vanillin - to the partners for $500. In the 1940's Durkee-Mower came out with a cookbook of recipes using Marshmallow Fluff as a key ingredient. The peanut butter-and-Fluff sandwich, a customer favorite, didn't take on its Fluffernutter nickname until an ad agency suggested it, and it was registered for trademark in 1961.

It may have been around a good spell, and is undoubtably well-loved to be considered an old standby, but it ain't exactly your standard PB&J. Below is a pie version of the sandwich. Serve with a tall glass of cold milk.

"Ah, Fluffernutters... there are many who say you haven't really lived until you've taken a bite out of one of these distinctly American treats! Long a staple of playgrounds, after-school snacks, college dorms, and the local diner, a Fluffernutter is a wonderful concoction of Marshmallow Fluff and peanut butter in delightfully tasty sandwich!"

Fluffernutter Pie
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup Marshmallow Fluff
2 cups heavy or whipping cream
1 Chocolate Crumb Crust (*see below)
  1. In medium saucepan combine 1/2 cup cold water and gelatin; let stand 1 minute.
  2. Cook stirring constantly, until gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in sugar, vanilla and remaining water. Beat in peanut butter and Fluff.
  4. Chill until mixture mounds when dropped from spoon. Fold in whipped cream.
  5. Turn into crust; chill until set.
*Chocolate Crumb Crust
20 Oreos
6 tbsp butter, melted
  1. Crush cookies to fine crumbs and combine with melted butter.
  2. Pour into 9-inch deep-pie pan. Using the back of a spoon, press onto bottom and sides of pan up to one inch of top.

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