Cooking with Joyce Carol Oates in the Fibonacci Kitchen

[Soft Italian music plays. Masterclass title appears on screen, fades, Joyce Carol Oates comes into focus, behind a kitchen counter, her back turned to the camera, an oven and a rectangle of walnut-veneer cabinets behind her. Kitchen Aid French door refrigerator, stage left.]


(Blue hospital-type mask on, turns slowly to face the camera. Tight-curled black hair fringes her face. Simple, thin-framed glasses circle her sad, serious, wondering eyes)

As a famous writer and amateur chef, I know how the need to write and the need to cook are elemental and necessary to the creative human spirit, especially in these challenging times, and how much they have in common. One might say they both, quote, (show double “quote” finger gesture) “put food on the table”, as it were.

[Dramatic fade to black. Oates reappears, head turned one-quarter to camera]


 And in these times, when putting food on the table is always on our minds and pretty much no one is buying books, not even mine, or poor John Irving’s who hasn’t sold a book worth reading in maybe ten years, or John Updike either, but then he has passed, hasn’t he, pity. We all need to expand our horizons, do different things to bring in a little cash flow, get out into the public eye, because, let’s face it, if they don’t see you baby, you’re gone. Fini. Caput. So, let’s stop mooning about all of this and let’s cook!

Oates: (Takes mask off. Looks seriously into the camera.)

I am not Joyce Carol Oates. Mea culpa. I apologize. (Pause) I am Maria Pia Schlosberg from Larchmont, NY, and I just look a lot like her. I made believe I was her just to get you to click on this video.

(Breathy pause) [Smiles broadly. Claps hands in front of face.]

And this is my Fibonacci Kitchen Masterclass.

I don’t have the gonadi like Joyce does to charge ninety bucks for a fifteen-minute YouTube spot with no ads and bad lighting. But if you like me, share me on Facebook.

And besides, I know you have so many other things to do, like take a walk in the park breathing in somebody else’s slip stream. Or waiting outside Whole Foods, a short six feet behind some guy jumping up and down like he needs to go pee.  Let’s face it. It’s me or it’s reading Self on the toilet to get away from the husband who’s sleeping on the couch with the dog watching re-runs of the shopping channel!

[Screen fade to black; slow return.]


Today I’m making my famous Fibonacci Kitchen Gamberetti con olio aglio e basilico. Shrimp with garlic and basil. Good, right?

 [Overhead shot of counter.]

So, here’s the shrimp. (Hand gestures to shrimp in Tupperware bowl) A half-pound of shrimp already peeled and ready to go.

See how each shrimp has this nice curve to it? With the body curved around in a kind of a spiral?

That’s a Fibonacci spiral. And, if you look around, you can see it everywhere, not just in shrimp. It’s in seashells and sunflowers, the branching of huge trees and tiny basil plants, and even in the Milky Way for god sakes! In hurricanes, and even the way your cat tucks its head in falling asleep in your lap.

It’s like some great Karmic energy glue. Like something sacred, melding us with the whole universe.

Now, Arnold, hold up that picture I gave you.

[Arnold Schlosberg shows picture to camera.]


See this? It’s a Fibonacci spiral drawn around a cooked shrimp. Yummy!

So, let’s put these Fibonacci shrimps into a skillet with a little extra-virgin olive oil and a little butter and garlic on medium high and cook these babies up with sprinkle of salt and a grind of black pepper.

And while they’re cooking, I’ll just show you, quick, how the spiral works. In math, if you take two numbers, like zero and one and add them together you get what? And, Arnold, don’t call it out if you know it.

You get one. And, then if you add 1+1 and you get what? 2, right? And then you add the 2 to the 1 and you get… that’s right, Arnold, 3, and then 3+2 equals 5, and so on.

And so now if you take those numbers and make squares with sides the length of the numbers and put them together to make rectangles you get this picture.

Blows your mind, right? See the little baby spiral with the 0, 1, 2 ,3, 5? That’s where your eyes focus in great paintings like the Mona Lisa. Then there’s 8 and thirteen and twenty-one making another rectangle and so on. See that. The billowing energy is so amazing, right? You get caught up in the swirl of it like for forever.

Just like these swirls of smoke around me.

[Fibonacci swirls of gray smoke waft across the picture of the spiral.]

[Woman’s voice off camera]

 Merda santa! Arnold, I totally burnt the Fibonacci shrimp!

Schifeza, Arnold, shut off the camera. Put on your mask and go see who’s at the door.

[Screen shot of a hand reaching for the camera.]

[Woman’s voice off camera]

 Oh, Arnold. I’m totally ruined. I’m just a laid-off New Rochelle math teacher. I’m nothing. I had this one shot. And I blew it. I’m no Joyce Carol Oates or Joyce Chen. I’m not even Carol Chen from down the street with the four rescue greyhounds who sells Halvah doggie treats on Etsy. She makes like a billion. And now I’ll probably get sued for copyright and impersonating…

 [Arnold’s voice off camera]

Oh, Maria Pia, honey, please don’t say that. You were great. You’re so smart and I love your cooking. This little mishap is nothing in the big, big picture.

Think of what you accomplished. How you opened up a whole new karmic wave in spacetime for people, and that’s what we need now more than anything! People will love you.

[Woman’s voice off camera]

My goodness, Arnold, I don’t deserve you. Shut the mic off and come give me a hug.

3 thoughts on “Cooking with Joyce Carol Oates in the Fibonacci Kitchen”

  1. So many references, gifts from the sea, the artist, the kitchen, Westchester County. In this time of plague, we embrace the moment. With gonadi. And love.


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