I’m operating on very little sleep today, but that’s alright. I spent the night getting through Patti Smith’s book ‘M Train’, and a few fitful hours of somnolence with her imagery tumbling through my mind — as my brain waves clicked in and out of appropriate nighttime gear like a rusty bike.
I love Patti’s writing; it’s so fluid, and I stop up frequently on her way of putting things, thinking, ‘damn, must remember that one’ — and maybe jot it down in my copybook. I used to underline sentences I liked, but I stopped, fearing the next reader would somehow be able to peer into my mind — or worse still, scoff at the choice of sentence that I thought merited a pedestal in the form of a wobbly and sometimes hesitant penciled line.
So yeah, I found ‘M Train’ pretty compelling — trailing Patti in her melancholy mooching, drinking in her day-to- day reflections as she appears equal parts entertained and haunted by her own thoughts. The book is non-linear, plotless; linked by memories rather than a temporal timeline. She has a way of writing that has a resonance that sticks to me — an ease and a fluidity that spills out onto the bedsheets and floats through your sleep long after the book has tumbled off the bed. I feel like it is the kind of writing that can ~ reacquaint you with your spirit ~ ...
Patti is intriguing to me in that she seems like someone who is really free — she retains her child-like sense of wonder, has the means to travel at will and on whim, questions everything, has a broad mind, and is capable of adapting to her surroundings (often by way of returning to a portable ‘home’ of black coffee, olive oil and bread, and maybe a CSI marathon). She is human yet ethereal — down-to- earth yet totally unique. She is a dreamy loner who easily draws you in with her innately endearing personality. She obsessively watches crime drama, and the need for resolve, or truth, seems to form an intrinsic part of her character. She has a particular liking for the American remake of The Killing; upon reading this my inner voice yelped ‘me too, Patti!’, but maybe that’s just me trying to identify with her because I find her intoxicatingly cool.
I won’t go into the plot, because there isn’t one, and maybe you just want some goddamn olive bread. The narrative transitions between dreams and reality, or rather, they seep in and out of one another seamlessly. Patti muses on far-flung adventures with her late husband, and everyday happenings like coffee shop stops to revisit the recurring theme of black coffee. The prose is peppered with polaroids, piecing together this fragmented memoir, which somehow sits itself outside of the temporal realm. The writing meanders in all directions — it is digressive but it’s not excessive. It has a very natural flow, and the time shifts are smooth and elegantly connected. ‘M Train’ is what a memoir should be, to me — an experience of the author’s everyday life and thoughts, on track and off.
I’m inspired by Patti’s compelling narrative, but equally by her singular aesthetic, and her simple tastes — I love her periodic, pauper-esque meals of black coffee, brown bread, and olive oil. Simple, but good — no need to dress it up and show it off; that’s not Patti’s style. With this in mind, I hauled my not-so- well-rested self out of bed and I set about throwing together a simple olive oil bread. Not snazzy, not complicated — but simple and good. An everyday thing that has its stripped-down charm.
Away from the Mediterranean, I feel as though the wonderful flavour of olive oil is overlooked. Its use is common, of course, but its charm is rarely highlighted. The cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet has a fruity, nutty, and complex taste, that really elevates the flavour of this hearty, homespun loaf, as well as shining through all on its own. I suggest you set yourself up with a dipping dish of EVOO and a good book.
Olive Oil Bread (paleo, grain-free, gluten-free, high-protein, low-carb)
3 medium free-range eggs
160g ground almonds
20g coconut flour
1 tbsp chia seeds
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil + a drizzle for the top
2 tsp honey
2 tsp nutritional yeast flakes (optional)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 180C and line a loaf tin.
2. Add all ingredients except pumpkin seeds to your food processor (or mixing bowl) and combine.
3. Scoop mixture into tin, sprinkle with seeds, and drizzle with more olive oil.
4. Bake for approx 30 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean.