Haven’t been blogging much lately, mostly because I’ve been busy with, you know, stuff. And things. Nothing really exciting. The last couple days I’ve been making things out of Roman Cookery: Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens and so far the results have been interesting and quite good. Though this morning’s serving of puls punica was entirely too much cheese at the beginning of the day and I am loathe to move much now if I can help it. Apparently the recipe comes from Cato the Elder, who fed it to his slaves, and actually it tasted quite good and no doubt all that cheese was good for calories and protein if you were doing Cato’s farmwork, but urgh.

I do highly recommend the mixtura cum caseo with lagana (the lagana weren’t hard to make, but just for reference, a box of wheat thins would make an entirely acceptable substitution). Fabulous lunch. Also ginormous amounts of cheese.

Once I’ve managed to digest the puls punica–I expect that will be some time next week–I’ll be trying the moretum and maybe even trying to make some garum. The “if you don’t have the patience to leave a jar of fish and salt in the sun for six months” version, I’ll just say that right up front.
And there’s still quite a few breads, porridges, and soups, as well as one or two things with, like, meat or fish in them!

Anyway. A conversation on Twitter reminded me of a writing peeve of mine, and I thought I’d rant on that a bit, because.

The peeve is, complaints about “passive” characters, when those characters are not, in fact, passive–when in fact small choices in constrained situations do indeed lead to change, sometimes on a large scale, sometimes not. I most often see this when the characters in question are very hedged about by circumstances. The movements available to them can be small and subtle.

Now, it’s true that small and subtle movement often can rule out big, wide, adventury stories with exploding planets–though it doesn’t always–and it definitely rules out naked power fantasies where the MC is a Chosen One with all kinds of power–physical, political, economic–at their disposal.

But “very few choices, few of which involve much physical violence or action” is not the same as “passive” and I think assuming it is is particularly unfortunate. In fact, historically, in various times and places, women have lived in constrained circumstances, with options limited by custom, and yet quite a few women, historically, in various times and places, have done some amazing things within those limits, up to and including ruling empires. And there’s a great deal of drama available in those stories, in the ways people can, and did, manipulate the limited choices available to them with pretty astonishing results. Looking back on those and saying, “Well, but she didn’t really do anything, she was just passive” is….let me politely call it an error.

It’s quite a coincidence, isn’t it, that those stories and their real life analogues are so often about women or members of other marginalized groups, and when you look at that, the prohibition on writing passive characters suddenly looks very different.

Plus, while yes, it’s very fun to read about emperors and generals and whatnot, I have a problem with the unstated assumption that everyday people, just ordinary folks, must therefore have lives that are not interesting enough to tell stories about.

Not to mention the fact that thinking only the planet-exploding, power fantasy stories are worth telling is so extremely limiting. I mean, I like planet exploding power fantasies as much as the next girl, but I’d be so, so bored if that were all there was to read.