Most who know me are aware that I'm almost possibly the opposite of a vegan, until recently, a fairly faithful follower of one customized iteration of the paleo or "caveman" diet, consuming several pounds of meat a day, along with some nuts, fruits, and vegetables. They also know that I don't generally consume pastries of any kind, though I am assaulted by non-paleo cake every now and then. They might be surprised that I would buy a zine with the title Smash the Pastryarchy, which contains several vegan recipes for baked goods. What this zine offers is a lot more than recipes for foods I would likely not eat. And Batman. Batman appears within these pages.
While I cannot provide commentary on the recipes, I can vouch for the storytelling that comes with this zine. Creator Kara adds something of a narrative to what could've been a typical catalog of recipes. Kara's storytelling is what brought me into some of the politics of the zine, financial, racial, and sexual. I suppose the "smash" and "archy" should've hinted to me some of this awesome radicalness.
Kara shares insightful anecdotes from when she was a cog in the pastryarchy, each tale taking place in the bakery is poignant and usually humorous in the absurdity of the customers' comments and actions. Alone, these accounts might be isolated incidents, freak moments that indicate problems within individuals. Combined, there is a narrative spotlighting overarching cultural biases in how men treat women, how people "treat" themselves and their money, ideas about race and the color purple, and that even Batman can learn something new.
In one instance, what might be a hopeful moment, she writes about an older couple's reaction to a patch on her shirt that states, "Feel no guilt in your desire." To paraphrase, the woman said, "I needed to know that about forty years ago." Her husband, face turning serious, replies, "Yeah. We were raised on guilt. I don't know if your generation was, but we were raised in it." I would say it might not be as bad as their generation, but yes, we too were raised on it and this is but one example of a captured meaningful moment that provides insight into our culture.
What is the pastryarchy? How do we overcome its tyrannical hold on our wallets? What's it like to be a young woman working in food service with daily interaction with the public? Find out in these pages, if you dare...!
Cost: Check with the creator, but I think it was either $1.00 or a swap. I believe I actually paid for this one at the awesome 2011 Richmond Zine Fest.
Publication: 2011 January
Update! Kara's zines can also be found on the wonderful-looking Etsy page titled Clumsy.
Recommendation: Buy this zine and tell the creator what your experience was reading it. I hope you'll enjoy the recipes if you're so inclined.
As much as I'd love to share my copy with you, I bought this specifically for a vegan zinester friend who should expect this in the mail... well, she knows how long it takes me to mail things. In the meantime, should I see Kara again at a zine fest, I will have to get another copy.